Russian operatives tried to correspond with adviser Hope Hicks multiple times after Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, prompting the FBI to caution Hicks, people familiar with the events told The New York Times.
Former officials told the Times that “introductory emails” from Russian government addresses to Hicks “alarmed” US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The New York Times noted in its Friday report that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.
Hicks met with senior FBI counterintelligence agents at least twice after Trump took office, according to The New York Times report. In the briefings, which took place in the White House Situation Room, according to the Times, the agents told Hicks who had attempted to connect with her and noted that they were “not who they claimed to be.”
Hicks also reportedly shared with White House counsel Don McGahn that she had met with the FBI, according to the Times.
Both Hicks’ lawyer and the FBI declined to comment to The New York Times.
In addition, the Times reported that Hicks was interviewed by investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Thursday and Friday of this week — but it is not known whether the attempted contacts by Russians were discussed.
Several investigations are ongoing that are looking into potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, including the special counsel investigation run by Mueller.
Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the then-Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Additionally, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted in October on charges unrelated to their work on the campaign, but pleaded not guilty.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.