Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians

Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as banks and industrial companies fall

What's more, six of the contacts in the report by Reuters were reportedly between Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Trump advisers, including the likes of Michael Flynn.

The plan was only approved by Trump after Flynn was sacked in February for misleading United States vice president Mike Pence and other White House officials about his ties to Russia's ambassador to the US. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Moscow did not have official contacts with Trump's team during the campaign.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on February 1, 2017.

The conversations picked up by U.S. intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. But the disclosure could increase the pressure on Trump and his aides to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Congress with a full account of interactions with Russian officials and others with links to the Kremlin during and immediately after the 2016 election.

But a White House Official issued a statement that read: 'We are confident that when these inquiries are complete there will be no evidence to support any collusion between the campaign and Russian Federation.

Flynn's lawyer declined to comment.

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Burr's revelation came around the same time a Yahoo News story alleged that President Trump told Flynn to "stay strong" as federal investigators zeroed in on him.

But according to friends of the retired Army general, Trump insisted he take the position, and Flynn, "reluctant but honored" by the offer, accepted. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

The Obama administration had been skeptical of Flynn, who is under criminal investigation by the FBI for his foreign contacts and payments, since a year ago. The next day, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn't retaliate.

In congressional testimony, the acting FBI director, Mr Andrew G. McCabe, has confirmed the existence of a "highly significant" investigation into possible collusion between Mr Trump's associates and Russian operatives to sway the presidential election. The White House eventually admitted that Flynn did have 4 conversations with Kislyak, unknown to the head of the transition team, Vice President Mike Pence. If need be, USA officials investigating the contacts could request that their identities be revealed.

Concerns that Flynn was compromised were so strong that US intelligence officials went out of their way to hide information from him.

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