National Security

Trump told of unsubstantiated Russian effort to compromise him

Intelligence officials have briefed Donald Trump on a shadowy, unverified dossier alleging that the Russian government is in possession of compromising information about the president-elect, according to multiple reports.

The 35-page document — made up of a collection of memos filled with explosive claims about the billionaire’s relationship to Russia — has reportedly been circulating among journalists and officials for at least a few weeks.

But the sourcing on the document is unclear and likely unverifiable. CNN reports that it is based primarily on memos compiled by a former MI6 operative that were intended as opposition research into Trump.

The president-elect immediately blasted the report, tweeting, “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” 

{mosads}The FBI is reportedly investigating the credibility of the allegations — but officials told The Washington Post that the intelligence community believed that the sources involved were solid enough to warrant the inclusion of some of the claims as an addition onto the classified version of its report into Russian interference in the election.

BuzzFeed published a 35-page document on the heels of the CNN report that it claims is the original dossier. Several journalists noted that they had seen the document before but did not pursue the story because they couldn’t confirm any of the allegations.

Classified briefings on Russian interference in the presidential election given to Trump last week included a two-page summary of the allegations, according to reports. 

Officials told The Post that the summary was included in the report in part to show that while Russia had damaging information on Trump, it chose not to release it, bolstering the government’s conclusion that the Kremlin favored Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. 

The two-page summary also reportedly included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Trump transition team did not return requests for comment.

News of the dossier is a disturbing new turn in the saga of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections. 

It suggests that the Kremlin has been compiling damaging information — known colloquially as “kompromat” — on Trump that could be used as leverage against the incoming president — or at least that intelligence officials are worried about the possibility.

The allegations that Trump surrogates were exchanging information with Russian sources are equally explosive. 

Rumors have long swirled around former foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s reported dealings with Russian energy firm Gazprom and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to a pro-Russian official in Ukraine.

In an Oct. 30 letter to Comey, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it was “clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government,” citing “communications with you and other top officials in the national security community.”

CNN reports that the same allegations in the dossier summary prompted Reid’s letter.

“Senator Reid’s letters and statements speak for themselves,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement Tuesday. 

The reports renewed calls for Trump to disclose the breadth of his business and financial ties.

“What I think he can do right now is disclose his personal and global financial holdings and show us his taxes,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee’s CIA subcommittee. “That would be a service to his presidency and the country.” 

Senate Intelligence Democrats earlier on Tuesday pushed FBI Director James Comey to publicly disclose whether the bureau was investigating ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, exchanges that in retrospect appeared to be oblique references to the allegations contained in the classified dossier. 

“I think the American people have a right to know this,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said. “And if there is delay in declassifying this information and releasing it to the American people and it doesn’t happen before Jan. 20, I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”

Comey declined to tell lawmakers whether the bureau was conducting an investigation into reports of ties between Russia and Trump surrogates — but said that Russia did not hack the Trump campaign.

In comments to The Post, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) downplayed the report. 

“The Russians are always looking for dirt on any politician,” Nunes said, addressing concerns that Russia was gathering kompromat on Trump.

Regarding any contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, Nunes, who is a member of the transition team, said “No.”

“I found that hard to believe. I have not heard that. News to me,” he said.

Others say the fact that intelligence officials are briefing Trump on the allegations proves that they have at least some credibility.

“These are allegations of Trump campaign collusion with a hostile foreign power that were credible enough that the intelligence community presented them to Trump himself,” said Mieke Eoyang, a former House Intelligence Committee staffer who is now vice president of Third Way’s national security program. 

“These would be enough to open a criminal investigation for espionage or unregistered agent of a foreign power.”  

The intelligence community on Friday released a declassified version of the report that laid out evidence of a widespread Russian influence campaign intended to help Trump win the White House by damaging Clinton’s campaign.

Central to the analysis that Putin intended to help Trump is an assessment that while Russia collected information on some Republican-affiliated targets, it did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign.

But some Republicans appeared unconvinced Tuesday that this was adequate evidence.

“Since we don’t believe they got in, the fact that they have nothing to release should not be a shock,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, referring to Comey’s testimony that Russian hackers were unable to break into the Republican National Committee domain or the Trump campaign.

Officials argued that while the asymmetrical disclosure campaign was “one aspect,” the assessment that Putin wanted to help Trump was based on much broader evidence.

“There’s more behind that conclusion, we just can’t talk about it here,” Comey said, referring to the unclassified setting.

Tags Donald Trump Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Ron Wyden Roy Blunt

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