American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are investigating wiretapped communications and financial transactions to determine any possible links between Russia and associates of President-elect Donald Trump, according to news reports Thursday.
Paul Manafort, the president-elect's former campaign chairman, is among the associates under investigation, top U.S. officials told The New York Times.
The officials said they were not sure whether any of the wiretapped communications involved the president-elect or his campaign — nor were they sure whether the probe was part of any inquiry into Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other party operations during the presidential campaign.
The FBI is leading the investigation, the Times reports, along with the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit.
No conclusive evidence of wrongdoing has yet been found, the officials said.
Agency representatives declined to comment — and the half-dozen former and current officials "who confirmed the existence of the investigations," spoke on condition of anonymity "because they were not authorized to discuss the cases," the Times reports.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also begun an inquiry into accusations Russia worked to sway the November election.
Regarding Manafort, he has conducted business in Ukraine and Russia, according to the report.
The NSA is already monitoring some of his Moscow contacts for possible ties to the Kremlin's Federal Security Service, the officials said.
Others being targeted are Carter Page, a former Merrill Lynch banker and Trump campaign policy adviser, and Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the president-elect, the Times reports.
"We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation," said Hope Hicks, a Trump transition spokeswoman.
Manafort slammed the Russian allegations as a "Democrat Party dirty trick and completely false."
"I have never had any relationship with the Russian government or any Russian officials," he told the Times via email. "I was never in contact with anyone, or directed anyone to be in contact with anyone.
"On the 'Russian hacking of the DNC,'" Manafort said, "my only knowledge of it is what I have read in the papers."
Stone is reportedly being investigated because of comments he made last summer he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published the hacked DNC emails.
He said Thursday he had never visited Moscow nor had Russian clients.
Stone disclosed he had been in Ukraine for a pro-Western party, but any allegations of ties to Russian intelligence was "nonsense" and "totally false," he said.
"The whole thing is a canard," Stone told the Times. "I have no Russian influences."
Page, who later founded Global Energy Capital, a New York investment firm that has business ties to Moscow, was bewildered when queried by the Times.
He blamed a smear campaign he said was orchestrated by the Democrats to raise questions about his ties to Russia.
"I did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time," he said in an interview.
Page added his adversaries were "pulling a page out of the Watergate playbook."
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