President Donald Trump appeared to dismiss questions surrounding his campaign's ties to Russia ahead of a congressional hearing Monday, calling the story "FAKE NEWS" in a series of early-morning tweets.
"James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia," Trump tweeted. "This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!"
Clapper told NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier this month that the report the intelligence agencies compiled on Russian meddling in the US election did not include evidence that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with Russian operatives.
"We did not include any evidence in our report — and I say, 'our,' that's NSA, FBI, and CIA, with my office, the Director of National Intelligence — that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians," he said. "There was no evidence of that included in our report."
RELATED: Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations
Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations
Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations
Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.
Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.
Outgoing Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak is the Russian official U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions -- communication Sessions denied during his Senate committee hearing testimony.
Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”
Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
The American intelligence community accused Putin in Jan. 2017 of ordering a campaign to undermine trust in the American electoral process, developing a clear preference for Trump as president. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report read.
Comey publicly confirmed in March an FBI inquiry into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey stated.
Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.
Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.
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In a follow-up tweet Monday morning, the president claimed Democrats "made up and pushed the Russian story" to explain Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's loss in the presidential election.
"The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign," Trump tweeted. "Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!"
Trump also called on Congress and the US intelligence community to look into classified-information leaks, tweeting: "The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!"
FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers are set to publicly testify Monday about their investigations into possible links between Russia and Trump's campaign, as part of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into allegations that Russia meddled in US elections.