White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday that the White House does not “know of any contacts with Russian agents” by members of President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Chuck Todd asked Priebus on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” whether Trump could “say definitively that nobody in his campaign, nobody that he’s been associated with, had any contacts with any Russian agents.”
Priebus flatly denied it.
“No. First of all, the answer is no, and we don’t know of any contacts with Russian agents,” he said. “I’ve talked to the top levels of the intelligence community, and they’ve assured me that that New York Times story was grossly overstated and inaccurate and totally wrong.”
The New York Times and CNN reported on Tuesday, citing U.S. officials, that members of Trump’s campaign staff made contact with Russian officials several times before the 2016 election.
Priebus said that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “maintained” to other members of Trump’s administration that he never discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
“But still something wasn’t adding up and eventually we determined that he did in fact talk about the sanctions,” Priebus said.
Flynn resigned on Monday, days after reports revealed that he spoke about sanctions in a call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.
“Why did more than a week go by before the vice president was informed of this issue?” Chuck Todd asked.
“He was always aware of the issue as to whether or not he talked about sanctions. I mean that was an ongoing conversation,” Priebus said. “The vice president is in the loop on everything. It happened so fast.”
“Do you still believe this was an honest mistake by Mr. Flynn?” Todd asked.
“My view is what he did wasn’t illegal, like many other people have said, but it’s the fact that he wasn’t straight or honest,” Priebus replied.