US intelligence investigating Russian links of Trump associates - report
Investigation centers on business dealings of some of Trump’s past and present advisers
The shop ‘Army of Russia’, located opposite the US embassy in Moscow, with an image of US president-elect Donald Trump. Photograph: Reuters
US law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior US officials said.
The investigation means Mr Trump will take the oath of office Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him, the New York Times reporte on Friday.
It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with the Trump campaign or Mr Trump himself.
It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November.
The investigation centres at least in part on the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia.
Mr Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said.
Mr Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative.
The FBI is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the CIA and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit.
The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said.
“We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation,” said Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump transition.
In an emailed statement Thursday evening, Mr Manafort called allegations that he had interactions with the Russian government a “Democrat Party dirty trick and completely false.”
Mr Stone, in a brief interview Thursday, said he had never visited Russia and had no Russian clients. He said that he had worked in Ukraine for a pro-western party but that any assertion that he had ties to Russian intelligence was “totally false.”
Mr Page, a former Merrill Lynch banker who founded Global Energy Capital, an investment firm in New York that has done business with Russia, expressed bewilderment about why he might be under investigation.
The New York Times