Two more members of US President Donald Trumps campaign team spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an event held during the Republican National Convention last July, a media report said. Retired US Navy officer Jeffrey D. Gordon and oil industry consultant Carter Page spoke with Kislyak at the event in Cleveland, but the contents of their discussion remains unknown, the USA Today said the report on Thursday.
Gordon, who managed the advisory committee as the Trump campaign’s director of national security, said that while he also spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland, it was not unusual for a presidential campaign to interact with diplomats.
“I’d consider it an informal conversation just like my interactions with dozens of other ambassadors and senior diplomats in Cleveland,” Gordon told USA Today.
Page, also a member of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, cited “confidentiality rules” in declining to say what he discussed with the ambassador.
“I had no substantive discussions with him,” said Page, who left the campaign later in the summer amid controversy over a speech he gave in Moscow also in July criticising American foreign policy and sanctions against Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also met with Kislyak during the event, The Hill magazine reported.
The former Alabama senator came under fire on Wednesday night amid Justice Department claims that he spoke with the ambassador twice during the campaign, once at the Heritage event and another time privately in September, encounters he which he did not disclose during his Congressional confirmation hearing to become the Attorney General in January.
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Sessions announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon that would recuse himself from any existing or future investigations that relate to the Trump campaign.
Probes into Russia’s attempts to meddle with the election reportedly involve examining Trump aides’ contacts with Moscow.
The revelation that Gordon and Page spoke with Kislyak is the latest in a series of reports involving the Russian diplomat, the magazine said.
Trump’s first National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned last month after it was revealed that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak in the month before Trump took office.
The New York Times also reported on Thursday that Flynn attended a meeting between Kislyak and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in December.
A White House spokesperson said the meeting was meant to “establish a line of communication” between the incoming administration and the Kremlin.