Russia Claims to Have Compromising Info on Trump [UPDATED]
CNN broke news this evening that as a part of the classified intelligence briefing delivered on Friday, the intelligence community notified President Elect Donald Trump (as well as Congress and the Obama administration) Russia claims to have compromising personal and financial information about him.
The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.
The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.
The new evidence that Russia obtained damaging evidence about both party’s candidates but only released information about Hillary Clinton to Wikileaks offers further confirmation to what experts have been saying for weeks about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions to install Donald Trump into the U.S. presidency. Moreover, knowing that the FBI had this evidence on hand immediately before the election raising an alarming question:
Why did James Comey write a letter to Congress about potential email evidence against Clinton he hadn’t examined – let alone vetted – and not notify them of actual evidence from British intelligence that Russia potentially compromised the Republican candidate for the presidency? And this is knowing the public already had pertinent questions about Russia’s involvement in the election at that point, so it wouldn’t have been an unusual revelation.
Buried in the CNN article is a second bombshell we previously reported on:
The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.
Sources tell CNN that these same allegations about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians, mentioned in classified briefings for congressional leaders last year, prompted then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to send a letter to FBI Director Comey in October, in which he wrote, “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States.”
Before the election we reported not only on similar reports that the Kremlim was attempting to turn Trump into an asset, but also that he had constant contact with Russia throughout the election cycle.
CNN has reviewed a 35-page compilation of the memos, from which the two-page synopsis was drawn. The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats. At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations. But, in preparing this story, CNN has spoken to multiple high ranking intelligence, administration, congressional and law enforcement officials, as well as foreign officials and others in the private sector with direct knowledge of the memos.
Some of the memos were circulating as far back as last summer. What has changed since then is that US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe and find him and his sources to be credible enough to include some of the information in the presentations to the President and President-elect a few days ago.
As of now Donald Trump has provided no comment to media about the new revelations.
UPDATE [January 11, 2017 @ 1pm ET]
BBC confirmed today the intelligence memos released by Buzzfeed that CNN based their reporting on in part were assembled by multiple sources – not the single former British intelligence agent as previously advertised:
ICYMI: BBC correspondent says there’s more than one source, more than one tape & more than one date of allegations in Trump intel dossier pic.twitter.com/NQmHeMHDM5
— Alastair Reid (@ajreid) January 11, 2017
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