In an explosive report, The New York Times is reporting that "members of Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election." This, according to four official sources.
The report goes on to say, "American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee." This according to three official sources.
Much of the contact was occurring while Trump was "speaking glowingly" about Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
The contacts on Trump's side included members of his campaign team and business associates. Russian contacts included members of the Russian government, within and outside of intelligence services.
Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman was alreadly known publically to have had contact with the Russians. He had worked in both Russia and the Ukraine as a political consultant.
When questioned by the paper, Manafort said he had never knowingly spoken to a Russian intelligence official, been involved with the Russian government, or the Putin administration.
Sources declined to name others involved in the contacts, citing the investigation is classified.
However, those know to have been "closely examined" by the FBI are Carter Page, the foreign policy adviser to the campaign, Roger Stone, a "longtime Republican operative," and Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who resigned yesterday.
All of the man have denied having had "improper contact" with the Russian officials.
The FBI is conducting a deep investigation into the contacts, including call logs, intercepted communications, banking and travel records, and conducting interviews.
The intercepted communications were discovered during routine electronic surveillance of foreign intelligence services. Once found, however, the FBI and NSA have been going through "troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed."
The FBI is also trying to "assess the credibility" of the salacious dossier published by Buzzfeed the Russians are thought to have compiled on Trump.
None of The Times sources would disclose the contents of the intercepted communications, how many other of Trump's campaign members and associates are under investigation, or whether any of Trump's campaign team had assisted the Russians in meddling with the national elections.
The White House has not responded for the Time's request for comment. The FBI has declined comment.