A months-long inquiry into contacts between Russian government officials and associates of President Trump’s campaign and business interests will continue despite the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misleading White House officials about his communication with Russia, a U.S. official told USA TODAY on Wednesday. The federal inquiry — which has amassed intercepts of telephone calls, business records and subject interviews — is looking at how Russian officials sought to meddle in the November election, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly. The official added that there was no current evidence of collusion to tilt the election. The extent and purpose of those alleged contacts, believed to involve a limited number of Trump campaign and business associates, continue to be weighed, including whether the associates were aware they were communicating with Russian intelligence officials or those working on behalf of the Russian government, the official said. TheNew York Times reported Wednesday that phone records and intercepted calls show Trump campaign officials had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.
The White House faced new questions about links between Flynn, President Trump, his campaign and Russia, as attacks from across Washington consumed the White House and Congress. Trump even defended Flynn in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday.
Flynn was interviewed by FBI agents following last month’s inauguration after public statements by top administration officials, including Vice President Pence, about Flynn’s pre-inaugural discussions with the Russian ambassador did not track the contents of the intercepted telephone calls. The administration officials had strongly refuted claims that Flynn had discussed sanctions imposed against Russia by the Obama administration.