Kellyanne Conway claims President Donald Trump doesn’t know and didn’t work with two of his 2016 presidential campaign advisers who have been linked to Russia. The assertion follows FBI Director James Comey’s confirmation Monday that that the bureau is investigating ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump’s counselor said Tuesday that Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for the campaign, and J.D. Gordon, a former national security adviser for the campaign, were little more than “fringe players.”
“In the case of Mr. Page, Mr. Gordon, some others, they really have very attenuated contacts to the campaign that I managed for the last three months,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.”
“I have spoken directly to the president and other senior officials about this. He doesn’t know these gentlemen. He didn’t work with them.”
Both Page and Gordon have admitted to meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention in July. Page was fired from the Trump campaign in September following reports he had discussed sanctions relief with Russian officials.
Conway’s attempt to distance Trump from surrogates linked to Russia mirrors White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments during a press briefing Monday. Paul Manafort, who once managed Trump’s presidential campaign, has also been linked to Russia. But Spicer claimed Manafort played only a small part in the political operation.
“There’s been a discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” Spicer said.
Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager in March 2016 before resigning in August amid scrutiny over his ties to pro-Russian forces.
Spicer also attempted to weaken the link between Trump and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned as Trump’s national security adviser last month after reports surfaced that he had met with Kislyak and mischaracterized the nature of those conversations to Vice President Mike Pence.
“Even Gen. Flynn was a volunteer,” Spicer said.
While Flynn served in that capacity throughout the campaign, his final meetings with the Russian ambassador came after Trump had named him as national security adviser.
This article has been updated with more details including on the links Page and Gordon have to Russia.