A top aide to President Donald Trump passed along information about a person who wanted to set up a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.
According to CNN, Rick Dearborn, who is now Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent information to campaign officials last year about the effort, which was not previously reported.
Dearborn was skeptical about the request, CNN’s senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju, said in an interview on Wednesday evening.
The person mentioned in the email was identified only with “WV.” One of CNN’s sources said it was a reference to a contact in West Virginia.
The report said the email came around the same time as a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower among Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son; Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who’s now a senior White House adviser; Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman; and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
The email represents another example of Russia’s attempts to make inroads with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Russian operatives reportedly targeted Carter Page, who was briefly a foreign-policy adviser to the campaign, as a potential opening to Trump’s inner circle.
Page, along with Manafort and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, had documented contacts with Russian operatives before and after they joined the Trump campaign. All of them have denied engaging in any untoward interactions with the Kremlin on behalf of the campaign.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has come under scrutiny in recent months for his previously undisclosed talks with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign. He did not mention during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year that he had such discussions, but later said he did indeed meet with Kislyak on several occasions.
A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is leading the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.