New Smirnoff vodka ad flaunts ‘ties to Russia’

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WASHINGTON — Is Smirnoff trolling the Trump administration?

The vodka brand is running an advertisement in the U.S. that leans on its Russian pedigree to needle the White House over allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Reporters based in Washington and New York posted photos of the ads that appeared on billboards and at transit stations.

“Made in America,” the ads state. “But we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath.”

Smirnoff, owned by British spirits giant Diageo, traces its heritage back to 19th century Russia. One version of the ad shows a Moscow Mule cocktail, a drink the brand claims to have invented in 1941.

“Smirnoff has been made in America for more than eight decades,” a spokesman for Diageo said in a statement. “The recent interest in American-made products created the perfect opportunity to reinforce that fact and the brand’s roots in Russia — with a wink and nod to current affairs.”

The spokesman was not able to confirm where the ad was running or how long the campaign would run. Trump is a teetotaler.

The Justice Department last month appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.

Former FBI director James Comey testified last week that the president had pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify at a public hearing of the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday.