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Amateur Investigator Probes Possible Links Between Trump And Russia

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russia is taking place on Capitol Hill at the FBI and other federal agencies. It's also happening in one D.C. ramen shop. Jeff Jetton owns the noodle restaurant Toki Underground in Washington, D.C. And he's one of a number of amateur investigators doing some digging on his own time. And he joins us on the line now. Hey, Jeff.

JEFF JETTON: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good morning. You've talked to some serious names in this investigation - Carter Page, Trump's former foreign policy adviser. You've talked to a woman who was Paul Manafort's travel partner to the Ukraine. I'm curious, just on a professional level, how did you get the access?

JETTON: Variety of ways - a little bit of trading information, a little bit of looking up emails and cold calling people and just - I don't know - general doggedness, I guess.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. What is the conversation like? Hi, I'm Jeff Jetton, reporter from Toki Underground ramen shop?

JETTON: I don't really describe myself. I don't have a - I don't label myself really. I've done some interviewing in the past and just, you know, strike up a general conversation with people usually in sort of a casual environment. And for some reason, usually, people will talk to me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I have to say, you've got great researching skills. I read that you even dug up Carter Page's undergrad thesis, and you spoke with his U.S. Naval Academy thesis adviser. That's amazing. Why did you do that, and how did you go that deep?

JETTON: I don't know. I just - I have a curiosity about this whole situation, and I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. So I - you know, the easiest way to say it is no stone left unturned.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You say, you know, you want to contribute to the investigation, but how are you different than a journalist?

JETTON: I don't know if I'm that much different than a journalist. I just - it's like a mystery that I want to solve that I think everybody's interested in solving. What has gone on and what is going on with Trump and his orbit of people he's dealt with over the years and ties to Russia and Ukraine and all these different matters?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Often when people are doing this kind of thing, they have fact checkers, and they have editors that go over their information, especially if you're a journalist. Do you have anyone that edits you or anyone that you work with that helps you verify the information?

JETTON: There's some fact checking. But the interviews that I do, I publish them exactly as they're transcribed. I'm not writing an article, per se.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can I ask you, has your shop - your restaurant, which is very well known here, helped you in your endeavor? Do people walk in to give you tips, try and contact you through that?

JETTON: You know, I'm not talking about this, really, to people because it probably would seem like I have a tin foil hat on my head until (laughter) - I don't know - you realize with a lot of people, I think that you think that there may be conspiracy theorists on Twitter or whatever. And then you realize, like, sometimes the conspiracy theorists are right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jeff Jetton, thank you so much for being with us.

JETTON: Absolutely. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEN VAUGHN SONG, "THE STALKER, PART II") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.