Speculations regarding President Trump’s campaign and administration’s affiliations with Russian officials have been long on the rise with new scandals emerging routinely. The latest in this series of revelations was about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but he is far from the only one with suspect ties to Russia.
With the ongoing FBI investigation to find the extent of these ties, here are the key figures of Trump’s campaign and administration that have alleged ties to Russia.
Donald Trump has denied having any contact with Russia on multiple occasions. When recently asked about his affiliation with Russia at a White House news conference, he replied;
It is, however, unclear how truthful this statement is and his connections are relatively ambiguous. Since Trump has never released his tax returns, it is difficult to distinguish the extent of his investments and funding’s received from – and to Russian investors.
The only known business connection between Trump and Russia is the Miss Universe Pageant which was hosted in Moscow in 2013. Trump co-owned the beauty pageant with NBC from 2002 until he bought full rights to it in 2013 after NBC terminated its ties with Trump due to his statements regarding Mexican immigrants.
He’s also made efforts in the past to build a Trump Tower in Moscow stating “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment. . . . We will be in Moscow at some point.” As of now, there is no Trump Tower in Russia.
While Trump continues to dismiss any connection to Russia, his past tweets and statement seemingly contradict his claims.
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 19 juni 2013
Manafort, who is Trump’s former campaign manager, resigned in August 2016 after being accused of having ties to Russia. He previously spent ten years in Ukraine as a lobbyist and worked for former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych. He supposedly asked the Kremlin to release information that would harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign. There was also a scandal involving a report from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine revealed handwritten ledgers that listed $12.7 million in cash payments for Manafort from Yanukovych’s political party. Hacked texts from Manafort’s daughter refer to the money as “blood money.”
Flynn who is a former Lt General of the Army resigned from his post as Trump’s national security adviser after just three weeks on the job. He admitted to having misled Vice President Mike Pence about the discussions he had regarding sanctions imposed by then President Obama with Sergey I. Kislyak — Russia’s ambassador to Washington. His talks with Kislyak, which he originally denied ever having, potentially violated the Logan Act, which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Flynn, in the past, had supported stronger ties with Russia and attended a dinner with Putin in 2015 for which he received a speaking fee from Russian television network that the U.S. views as a propaganda outlet.
Michael Flynn resigned on Feb. 13 after Trump directed him to step down because of an “eroding level of trust.” Trump was, however, warned by the Department of Justice of Flynn’s deception weeks before Pence became aware of the misconduct.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak twice last year according to the Department of Justice; instances that he failed to disclose under oath. On Jan. 10, Senate held a hearing to confirm Sessions as attorney general where he was asked of the Trump team’s affiliations with Russia. Sessions stated that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” He later announced that he would recuse himself of any investigations regarding Russian involvement into Trump’s campaign. Jeff Sessions is facing immense pressure from Democrats as well as some Republicans to resign.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) 2 mars 2017
Kushner is a senior adviser to his father in law, President Trump and has also been reported to have met with Sergey I. Kislyak in a disclosed meeting along with Michael Flynn in Dec. 2016. According to Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, Kushner discussed strategies “to establish a line of communication” between Trump Administration and Russia. Kushner is said not to have met with Kislyak since.
Tillerson, the current Secretary of State, was the CEO of ExxonMobil, a multinational gas, and oil corporation, for ten years until he retired in Dec. 2016. Tillerson led a business venture with Russia in 2011 for drilling in the Artic; the deal was said to be worth up to $300 billion. Tillerson has stated in the past that “It cannot be anything but helpful to broadening the relationship between the American people and the Russian people.” Tillerson has strong ties to not only Russia but President Putin as well. In 2013, he was awarded the “Order of Friendship” by Putin. The decoration is awarded to foreign nationals whose efforts were aimed at the betterment of the Russian Federation and its citizens. Tillerson has faced scrutiny by many politicians over his friendship with Putin.
Being a “friend of Vladimir” is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState – MR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 11 december 2016
While these key figures seem to be at the center of an emerging treason scandal, they are not the only ones that have been accused of having Russian ties.
Other members/former members that have alleged Russian connections are: Carter Page, Trump’s former foreign policy adviser; Roger Stone, an informal adviser; JD Gordon, Trump’s former campaign national security adviser; Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son; Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce and Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer.
As the FBI continues to investigate the role of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, the seriousness of these allegations remains unknown.