Politico reports: Congressional investigators are scrutinizing trips to Europe taken last year by several associates of President Donald Trump, amid concern they may have met with Kremlin-linked operatives as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Several people close to then-candidate Trump visited Europe during and after the campaign, including his son Donald Trump Jr., Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and foreign policy advisers Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Jeffrey Gordon. Their known destinations include London, Paris, Budapest and Athens.
But their explanations of those trips have not always been forthcoming, and some congressional investigators find their stories suspect.
When a House Intelligence Committee member asked Page last month about his end-of-summer 2016 visit to Budapest, for instance, Page initially said he “did a lot of sightseeing and went to a jazz club. Not much to report.”
Under further questioning, Page admitted to meeting with a Hungarian government official who some congressional investigators suspect is an intelligence officer and cryptically offered that “there may have been one Russian person passing through there.”
Trump Jr. flew to Paris late in the campaign to meet with and speak before a foreign policy group with ties to Russian officials. Cohen traveled three times to Europe last year, though he strongly denies the claim in a controversial dossier on Donald Trump’s Russia connections that he met secretly with a Russian official in Prague.
Such trips have raised concerns about whether the Trump associates were approached by Russian intelligence agents as part of the Kremlin’s election meddling or even sought face-to-face meetings themselves, possibly to discuss acquiring incriminating information on Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to two congressional officials familiar with the probes. [Continue reading…]