Russian official: Kislyak was not recruiting

Russian official: Kislyak was not recruiting
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in an interview broadcast Sunday said Moscow’s former ambassador was not trying to spy or recruit in his contacts with Americans during the 2016 presidential election.

During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Ryabkov said Ambassador Sergey Kislyak would not be properly performing his duties if he did not speak with Americans.

“If Ambassador Kislyak was not contacting some people on the other side so to say, he wouldn't perform his functions as he should,” Ryabkov said.

“He was not spying and he was not recruiting. If he did so, I would be now a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, if you know what it means," he joked.

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Ryabkov’s comments come as the special counsel continues its probe into Russia’s election meddling and any potential ties between President Trump’s campaign staff members and the Kremlin. 

Several officials affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsCurtis wins Chaffetz's former Utah House seat Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny FBI can’t unlock Texas shooter’s phone MORE and senior adviser Jared Kushner, have come under scrutiny for contacts with Kislyak that were not originally reported on security clearance forms.

When asked during the interview if Russia had been providing damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE to the Trump campaign, Ryabkov deflected and said Russia was not doing anything to interfere in another country’s “internal affairs.”

“All the information which we provide to anyone can be easily found in open sources. We are not doing anything to the detriment of the domestic developments or internal affairs of any country, the U.S. included,” he said.

“The very fact that someone saw some Russian, a Russian somewhere, is not close to a criminal act, I think it's ridiculous, it's degrading for such a great country as the United States," he continued.

Ryabkov was referring to a meeting between Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE Jr. and a Russian lawyer who told the younger Trump that she had harmful information about Clinton prior to the meeting.