British political operatives met with Russian ambassador days after Trump visit

British political operatives met with Russian ambassador days after Trump visit
British political operatives met with Russian ambassador days after Trump visit 04:42

London (CNN)Two British political operatives were in regular contact with the Russian ambassador in London while they campaigned for, and met with, Donald Trump in the United States in 2016, a review of emails and social media posts shows.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore were prominent figures in the 2016 campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Banks’ donation of more than 8 million pounds (nearly $11 million) to the pro-Brexit campaign is the subject of a probe by the country’s Electoral Commission, amid concerns of Russian interference.

After successfully campaigning for Brexit in June, the men’s attention appeared to turn to the United States.

Trump's personal attorney splits with his own legal team
Trump’s personal attorney splits with his own legal team

In August 2016, Banks and Wigmore attended a Trump rally in Mississippi with Nigel Farage from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

Farage spoke at the event, and was introduced by then-candidate Trump as “the man behind Brexit.”

Social media posts show the men traveled to Las Vegas for the final presidential debate in October 2016 and Banks told CNN he also attended a Trump event in St. Louis.

After the election, Banks and Wigmore were among a small group of Britons who visited the then-President-elect at Trump Tower in New York City.

Throughout the same period, Banks and Wigmore were in regular contact with the Russian ambassador in London.

Emails reviewed by CNN show dozens of correspondences between the Russian embassy officials and the two men, including lunch and embassy event invitations.

There is no evidence the Trump campaign knew about the men’s contacts with Russian officials.

Beginning in late 2015 and continuing into 2016, Banks was offered the opportunity of involvement in a $3 billion consolidation of six Russian gold mines with a company part-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former deputy chief of staff, Kirill Androsov.

Speaking to CNN, Banks acknowledged he had been approached about the transaction but after soliciting advice from experts on Russia and mining, he decided not to proceed.

As part of the “gold play,” another email appears to show an associate of Banks requesting a meeting in Moscow with Sberbank, a Russian bank that was sanctioned by the US and the European Union after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Banks told CNN on Tuesday he didn’t meet with…

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