There are new developments on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia. Here are the latest:
Russian Foreign Ministry Reacts to News of FBI Surveillance of Manafort
In a Sept. 20 Facebook post, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova referenced scoops in the U.S. media this week revealing that the FBI wiretapped Trump’s former election campaign manager Paul Manafort.
“Do you get why Russia is drawn into this? Zakharova wrote. “Right – to legitimize pre-electoral lawlessness.”
“Without the external factor, it would have been a banal new Watergate,” she said. “But with the element of ‘foreign interference’ the story is being played out under the guise of national security.”
Zakharova failed to mention that, according to CNN, the FBI discovered Manafort was talking to suspected Russian operatives.
Manafort Offered Private Briefing to Deripaska
Paul Manafort offered a private briefing on the campaign’s progress to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, while acknowledging there was no proof the meeting ever took place.
A spokesman for Deripaska, who is known as a Kremlin supporter, told the Post that alleged email offering the meeting were cooked up by political consultants “in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”
U.S. Special Counsel Seeks White House Documents Related to Trump’s Meeting with Lavrov
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, head of the probe into the Trump Administration’s dealings with Russia, has requested a number of documents regarding Trump’s actions since taking office, including meetings with Russians, the New York Times reported.
Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-ambassador Sergei Kislyak in May 2017 along with other Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Russians Appeared to Use Facebook to Push Trump Rallies in U.S.
A Facebook group of possible Russian provocateurs who staged a number of small pro-Trump demonstrations in various cities has been discovered by U.S. online news site The Daily Beast.
The pro-Trump group, “Being Patriotic” was shut down in August at the same time Facebook management purged a number of accounts related to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, known as the “Kremlin troll factor.”
Facebook has refused to release the names or URLs or Facebook groups or accounts suspected of interference in the U.S. elections, although it has complied with a request from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to turn over the data from ads purchased by Russian companies.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that Facebook executives are expected to testify at a public hearing on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, although Facebook declined to comment.