British political operatives were in contact with Russian ambassador while meeting with Trump: report

Source: The Hill | June 13, 2018 | Luis Sanchez

Two British political operatives were reportedly in contact with the Russian ambassador to the U.K. while they campaigned for and met with President Trump in 2016, CNN reported.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore played prominent roles in the successful 2016 Brexit campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union (EU).

After the U.K. voted to leave the EU in June, Banks and Wigmore attended a Trump rally in Mississippi with the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, Nigel Farage, who was a prominent supporter of leaving the EU.

Trump introduced Farage, who was speaking at the event, as “the man behind Brexit.”

According to social media posts, Banks and Wigmore also attended the last presidential debate in Las Vegas in October 2016. Banks told CNN that he also attended a Trump campaign event in St. Louis.

The two men were among the few Britons who visited Trump at Trump Tower in New York City following his victory in the election, according to CNN.

During that time, Banks and Wigmore were also in contact with the Russian ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, according to emails reviewed by CNN.

A few days after the Trump Tower meeting, the two men met with Yakovenko.

Farage said people would ask the two if they were “reporting back” to Yakovenko, but Wigmore said they only provided the ambassador with a phone number for the Trump transition team after he asked them how to connect with Trump.

There is no evidence that the Trump team was aware of Banks’s and Wigmore’s communication with Yakovenko.

In late 2015 and early 2016, Banks received an offer to take part in a $3 billion consolidation of six Russian gold mines with a company owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former chief of staff, CNN reported.

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