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The Russia controversy is swirling around the White House with no end in sight. It could be years before it concludes.

President Trump has consistently denied any collusion with the Kremlin, but special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his probe.

It has since emerged that the FBI carried out a pre-dawn raid on the home of Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign.

Donald Trump and Robert Mueller

Image: Donald Trump and Robert Mueller

The fact he’d already handed over documents to congressional committees raises the question of whether ex-FBI boss Mr Mueller simply didn’t trust him to supply everything that he needed.

Some of the documents are reportedly related to a meeting he attended at Trump Tower on 9 July 2016, which provided an explosive element to an already bubbling inquiry.

Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort was named in the reports

Image: Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort’s home was raided by the FBI

Some saw it as the closest thing to a smoking gun, even though it has produced no conclusive evidence the Kremlin was behind it.

The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who allegedly offered to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton, denies she did so. She also denies she is connected to the Russian government.

A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow. The bombshell revelation that President Donald Trump's oldest son Don Jr. met with a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer hawking damaging material on Hillary Clinton has taken suspicions of election collusion with Moscow to a new level. / AFP PHOTO / Kommersant Photo / Yury MARTYANOV / Russia OUT (Photo credit should read YURY MARTYANOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Image: Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya

Michael Caputo, who was working for the Trump campaign at the time of the meeting and is a friend of Mr Manafort, is convinced there is a “collusion delusion” taking hold.

He believes it is unfairly preventing the President from progressing.

He said: “After the fact the Democrats and the anti-Trump people in Congress are tying his hands, I think that’s a shame for every single American.

“Because now we don’t stand a chance to improve the relationship, the same chance George W had, Hillary Clinton had, Donald Trump doesn’t have.”

He concedes that Mr Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr, was perhaps politically naive to take a meeting with a woman described in emails as a “Russian government attorney” with sensitive information.

Trump associate Michael Caputo says there is a "collusion delusion" in Washington

Image: Trump associate Michael Caputo says there is a ‘collusion delusion’ in Washington

But he casts a portrait of a frantic campaign, filled with inexperienced family members who were trying to help and unaware of the implications. Experienced opposition researchers, he said, would have consulted others first.

Daniel Hoffman, former chief of station for the CIA, is also sceptical the meeting shows any hallmarks of collusion.

Instead, he believes what took place was a classic “Russian influence operation, designed to create turmoil in the US, to interfere with our election, our governing process and elevate Russia in the minds of many as a player on the world stage”.

Daniel Hoffman, former CIA chief of station calls the meeting a "Russian influence operation"

Image: Daniel Hoffman, former chief of station for the CIA

The Russian government denies any hand in the meeting. I asked why if they did in fact have a role, they would be so obvious about it, leaving a trace of emails.

“Putin served in Germany,” he replied. “He was channelling the Brothers Grim. He left Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs all the way to the Kremlin.”

The Russia investigation may well prove there are no links between the Trump campaign and Russia. But Michael Caputo is adamant “the special counsel has been tasked to take some scalps. He’s going to come back with some scalps.”

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