Trump Camp, Russian Officials in Contact During Campaign: Minister
'Obviously, we know most of the people from [Trump's] entourage'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2016 2:21 PM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a glass during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday.   (Sergei Karpukhin/Pool photo via AP)

(Newser) – The Trump camp is saying "nyet," but Russia's deputy foreign minister claims members of his government corresponded with Donald Trump's advisers throughout the US presidential campaign, the New York Times reports. "There were contacts," Sergei A. Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax. "We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign." While Ryabkov didn't specifically outline who was talking with whom, he added "a wide range" of Russian reps were in touch with many in Trump's camp. "Obviously, we know most of the people from his … entourage," he says, per Reuters. "Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions." These remarks earned an "absolutely not true" to the Times by spokeswoman Hope Hicks on Thursday (Hicks also sent a somewhat more-subdued response to Bloomberg via email saying she was "not aware" of any such talks.)

Ryabkov painted the contact as "part of routine everyday work" that was "on a sufficient, responsible level"—all part of an outreach program he says was also directed toward the Clinton camp, though he described contact with representatives there as "sporadic" and "not always productive." (The Clinton campaign hadn't responded to Bloomberg's request for comment as of press time.) A senior government official in Moscow tells the Times the meetings, arranged through the Russian ambassador in DC, were similar to the ones the ambassador has with congressional leaders in discussions about Russia. Ryabkov also had another tidbit to share about the US election: that Russian officials felt "no euphoria" at Trump's victory, though the Times notes that the country's Parliament started clapping when they heard the news. (Why NATO allies likely won't like this news.)
 

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