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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 TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE’s campaign staff members and the Kremlin. 

Several officials affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcGahn departs as White House counsel The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump requests Turkey's evidence on missing journalist | Takeaways from Texas Senate debate | Key Mueller findings could be ready after midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms 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 ClintonMueller's team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate GOP pollster says polls didn't pick up on movement in week before 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 Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who told the younger Trump that she had harmful information about Clinton prior to the meeting.