Members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team had more than 100 contacts with Russia-linked operatives between September 2015 and January 2017, according to an updated report by the Center for American Progress’ Moscow Project.
These contacts reportedly included at least 28 meetings, both in person and over Skype, and involved several prominent members of Trump’s inner circle including the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.; his former attorney Michael Cohen; and his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank based in D.C., said Wednesday that it had raised the number of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives to 101 following reports this week that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data on the 2016 election with a Russian consultant who had links to Moscow’s intelligence agencies.
“This wasn’t just one email or call, or one this or that,” Talia Dessel, a research analyst for CAP, told USA Today of the organization’s findings. “Over 100 contacts is really significant because you don’t just have 100 contacts with a foreign power if there’s nothing going on there.”
The 101 figure, Dessel added, was a “conservative” number.
Trump and members of his campaign have repeatedly made efforts to publicly distance themselves from any links to Russia.
“There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign,” Hope Hicks, then a top Trump aide, said in November 2016.
“Of course not,” Vice President Mike Pence said two months later when asked if “any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign [had] any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election.”
President Trump has repeatedly insisted there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russian election meddling is a “witch hunt.”