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What is Trump-Russia controversy about? Who all are involved? All your questions answered

Trump reacted to this latest development saying, "Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong."

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 22, 2018 11:43:28 pm
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) fatally injured in collision with ship and subsequently found by research vessel, Santa Barbara Channel, California
Donald Trump, Trump Russia, Russia US elections, US elections Russia, Trump elections Russia, Trump Micheal Flynn, Trump Jeff Sessions, US elections Hillary Clinton, World news US President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Officials in the Donald Trump administration are being investigated ever since reports surfaced that Donald Trump’s aides colluded with Russia to get ahead in the US Presidential Elections surfaced last year. The controversy has taken a new turn after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from proceedings, after being accused of communicating with officials from Moscow. Here’s a quick guide to everything that’s happened so far.

Watch: A timeline of the Trump-Russia scandals

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsOuSmSLGOs&w=560&h=315%5D

What is the Russia-Trump Administration issue? 1

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In June 2016, WikiLeaks published a trove of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mails , rumoured to be accessed by the Russians, that went against the Democratic National Committee.

In October 2016, US intelligence agencies publicly blamed Russia for interfering in the polls by hacking and leaking documents of the Democratic Party, resulting in tarnishing Democrat Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In January this year, based on a report by the intelligence agencies, that they are confident that Russia President Vladimir Putin was behind the conspiracy, the Justice Department and FBI were roped in to probe the allegations.

“The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organisations,” according a joint statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence, reported by PTI. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised these activities,” the statement added.

These allegations were refuted by Russia, which called the report “rubbish”.

Apart from the agencies, there are Senate committees and one House committee looking into the issue as well.

Is Trump involved?

President Donald Trump has consistently denied being embroiled in the controversy, denying he and his associates were personally associated with Moscow. He called it a “scam” perpetrated by a hostile news media. Similarly, Moscow denied all accusations as well.

“This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality,” Trump tweeted on March 3. “The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total “witch hunt!”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said, “Let’s not believe anonymous information.

“It’s a newspaper report which is not based on any facts.”

Donald Trump, Trump Russia, Russia US elections, US elections Russia, Trump elections Russia, Trump Micheal Flynn, Trump Jeff Sessions, US elections Hillary Clinton, World news Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, NY, U.S. November 17, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Segar/File Photo)

What about Trump’s aides?

The first to fall was White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. As early as Trump’s first week in office, Flynn was accused lying to the FBI in regard to discussing sanctions against Russia with Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the US, before Trump took office. Further, these discussions were allegedly on the same day former President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats as a result of the election row. While the Trump administration initially backed Flynn — Trump even said it was “really a sad thing that he was treated so badly” — he soon resigned after withholding information of his conversation from Vice President Mike Pence.

“I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn had said in his resignation letter, according to CNN.

On March 3, AP reports that a White House official says President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was part of a “brief courtesy meeting” between Flynn and the Russian ambassador in December.

Donald Trump, Trump Russia, Russia US elections, US elections Russia, Trump elections Russia, Trump Micheal Flynn, Trump Jeff Sessions, US elections Hillary Clinton, World news U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Sessions to become U.S. attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)

And Jeff Sessions?

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions was second in line, after it was discovered he had two conversations with Kislyak in 2016. Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was appointed his policy advisor, came under the scanner more recently for lying about these communications. Even though he said he has “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” Jeff recused himself from the Russia probe.

“I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the US,” Sessions said, according to PTI.

Trump reacted to this latest development saying, “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional.”

What about Manafort, Page, Stone?

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, Carter Page, his former foreign policy advisor, and Roger Stone, his informal advisor, are also under the scanner for interacting with Russian officials and having knowledge of the Clinton’s hacked e-mails.

What next?

Lawyers in the White House have instructed that all material connected to Russian interference be preserved. This includes material involving contacts that Trump’s administration, campaign and transition team or anyone acting on their behalf have had with Russian government officials or their associates, according to AP.

Politicians from both, the Republican and Democrats, are now urging an independent investigation into Russia interference.

Charges against Flynn and Sessions are also yet to be framed.

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