The four Donald Trump associates who are reported to be persons of interest in an FBI investigation of links to Russia all say they have not been contacted or interviewed by federal investigators.
Three of the four told The Daily Caller on Monday that they have not been contacted by federal agents as part of a probe into ties to Russian government officials. A fourth, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, told another news outlet on Monday that he has not been contacted by federal investigators.
The New York Times has reported in a series of articles that Cohen, along with former Trump advisers Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are all under scrutiny in an FBI counterintelligence probe of possible Trump-world ties to the Kremlin.
The Times reported that U.S. agencies are reviewing bank transactions and intercepted communications between Trump associates and Russian government agents as part of a probe of Russian meddling in the presidential campaign. No evidence has been uncovered so far of coordination between the former Trump aides and Russian operatives, according to The Times.
All four of the probe targets say they have not been contacted by federal agencies.
Asked whether the FBI has reached out for an interview, Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, told TheDC in a short email: “never contacted.”
Manafort has been accused by Trump opponents of being a link between the Republican and the Kremlin because of his past consulting work for Viktor Yanukovich, the former president of Ukraine and an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The Times has reported that federal investigators have been looking into Manafort since last spring.
Page, an energy investment consultant who served for several months last year on Trump’s foreign policy team, has also been accused in the press of coordinating with the Russian government on business deals.
Page wrote in a letter to the Justice Department last week that he has not met with any sanctioned Russian officials in the past year.
“Nor have I been contacted by any of the U.S. intelligence agencies or law enforcement following my July 2016 visit to Moscow,” he wrote in the letter, which he shared with TheDC.
Page was a virtual unknown until last March when Trump named him as one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisers during an interview with The Washington Post. Page’s ties to Russia drew scrutiny after he spoke at a commencement ceremony at a university in Moscow in July.
Since then, Trump and Page have both downplayed the energy consultant’s work on the campaign. Trump said in a press conference on Friday that he does not believe he has ever talked to Page. Page has said he was a lower level adviser and never met personally with Trump.
Stone, a one-time adviser to Trump and former business partner of Manafort’s, also says he has not been contacted by federal investigators.
Stone became a central figure in the Trump-Russia story after he claimed in the summer that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The hackers are believed to be Russian government operatives.
Stone emphatically denies having had any contact with the Russian government and says he has not been contacted by investigators.
“I have never been formally notified by anybody that there even is an investigation,” Stone told TheDC in a phone interview.
“In my own case, there is nothing to find. It’s not as if there are emails that I need to explain or personal relationship that I need to put in context: there’s nothing,” he said emphatically.
“I never hard from anybody connected to the Russians, I never had any connection to the Russians, I never communicated with anybody who I knew was a Russian or thought was a Russian.”
Cohen, who has worked as general counsel for the Trump Organization since 2007, was named in a Times report on Sunday as a person of interest in the federal probe of Russian links. The report stated that Cohen met with a Russian-American businessman and Ukrainian politician late last month to discuss a Ukrainian-Russian peace plan. According to the report, Cohen passed the report to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Cohen acknowledged that he attended the meeting at the request of the businessman, Felix Sater, but that he did not give any documents to Flynn. He also said he has not been contacted by federal investigators regarding ties to Russia.
“I have not been contacted by anyone from the FBI or any government organization,” Cohen told LawNews.com in a statement.
So what does it mean that the FBI has yet to contact the four Trump associates in its investigation?
Ron Hosko, who served as associate director of the FBI through 2014, says it could be interpreted several ways.
It could mean that the FBI does not have enough information to move forward in its investigation, that The Times’ reporting is inaccurate, or that agents are still collecting evidence prior to interviewing the four Trump associates.
“I suspect there’s no true urgency in this and the bureau will take the time needed to develop a case. That means no rush to interview a subject until they think the time is right,” said Hosko, who now serves as president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.