Donald Trump's ties with Russia have been the subject of much reporting and speculation throughout his successful Presidential campaign, and his time at the White House. Two close advisors, Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn, have had to resign due to Russia-related matters.
Late Tuesday night, several new bombshells further illuminated ties between Trump and Russia. Citing "four current and former American officials," the New York Times reported that members of Trump's campaign, as well as other associates, had repeatedly talked to "senior Russian intelligence officials" in the year leading up to the 2016 election.
Not long afterwards, CNN followed up with another article with some more detail, quoting "multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials" saying that the two sides were "in constant communication." Officials told the channel that the back-and-forth "'raised a red flag' with US intelligence and law enforcement."
These communications are especially unnerving to officials because they occurred at the exact time that the Russians were hacking the Democratic party, a practice that Trump himself encouraged, though he later claimed he was being "sarcastic." During this same period, Trump was also publicly praising Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
There is no definitive evidence as yet that the communications between Trump's team and the Russians were about hacking. However, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI, are still sorting through all of the information.
The news of the connection between Trump's team and Russian intelligence shocked people on all sides of the political spectrum—even members of Congress.