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John Podesta weighs in on whether Trump staffers colluded with Russia

John Podesta, Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, looks on before the first vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on October 4, 2016. / AFP / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

December 19, 2016

John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose personal email account was hacked earlier this year, commented Sunday on the possibility that Donald Trump’s campaign staffers were in touch with Russian officials involved in cyberattacks to influence the U.S. election — an accusation that top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway denied Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“It’s very much unknown whether there was collusion,” Podesta said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think Russian diplomats have said post-election that they were talking to the Trump campaign.”

And, he added, “Roger Stone in August foreshadowed the fact that they had hacked my e-mails and those would be forthcoming when he said that he was in touch with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Carter Page, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, went to Russia before the Republican convention and met with a person in the Russian hierarchy, who was responsible for collecting intelligence.”

Podesta, whose personal emails were posted to the WikiLeaks document dumping site earlier this year, went on to question “not what Mr. Trump knew, but what did Trump Inc. know and when did they know it?”

“Were they in touch with the Russians?” he asked, before saying electors voting Monday had a right to get briefed on more information. “I think those are still open questions.”

The Trump campaign, for their part, has explicitly denied any involvement or collusion with Russian officials over the hacks.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump aide, pushed back on reports that the campaign had had contact with Russians attempting to meddle in the election.

Asked whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with foreign powers, Conway said Sunday, “Absolutely not. I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened.”

The Clinton campaign chair went on to criticize the FBI for their investigation into the Russian hacks, saying he had just been contacted once by the agency about the matter.

“On October 7, the Access Hollywood tapes comes out. One hour later, WikiLeaks starts dropping my emails into the public,” Podesta said, refering to the recording from 2005 where Donald Trump can be heard boasting about his aggressive sexual advances towards women. “One could say that those things might not have been a coincidence. Two days later, the FBI contacted me, and the first thing the agent said to me was, ‘I don’t know if you’re aware but your email account might have been hacked.’ I said, yes, I was aware of that.”