CNN has reported that a two page synopsis was appended to the classified briefing given to the President, the President-elect, and the Gang of Eight (The Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees) stating that a retired MI6 officer had reported to the FBI in Rome that the Russians had been trying to and had compromised the President-elect. CNN’s reporting confirms and advances David Corn’s, which I first highlighted in an earlier Maskirovka post.
Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
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.
Two words on the "personal" compromise.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) January 10, 2017
One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.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.
CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.The Trump transition team declined repeated requests for comment.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.
The two-page summary was written without the detailed specifics and information about sources and methods included in the memos by the former British intelligence official. That said, the synopsis was considered so sensitive it was not included in the classified report about Russian hacking that was more widely distributed, but rather in an annex only shared at the most senior levels of the government: President Obama, the President-elect, and the eight Congressional leaders.CNN has also learned that on December 9, Senator John McCain gave a full copy of the memos — dated from June through December, 2016 — to FBI Director James Comey. McCain became aware of the memos from a former British diplomat who had been posted in Moscow. But the FBI had already been given a set of the memos compiled up to August 2016, when the former MI6 agent presented them to an FBI official in Rome, according to national security officials.The raw memos on which the synopsis is based were prepared by the former MI6 agent, who was posted in Russia in the 1990s and now runs a private intelligence gathering firm. His investigations related to Mr. Trump were initially funded by groups and donors supporting Republican opponents of Mr. Trump during the GOP primaries, multiple sources confirmed to CNN. Those sources also said that once Mr. Trump became the nominee, further investigation was funded by groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton.Spokespeople for the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. Officials who spoke to CNN declined to do so on the record given the classified nature of the material.Some of the allegations were first reported publicly in Mother Jones one week before the election.One high level administration official told CNN, “I have a sense the outgoing administration and intelligence community is setting down the pieces so this must be investigated seriously and run down. I think [the] concern was to be sure that whatever information was out there is put into the system so it is evaluated as it should be and acted upon as necessary.”
Vladimir Putin was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee during the US presidential election campaign, Boris Johnson has said, accusing Putin’s Moscow of being “up to all sorts of tricks”.
It is the first time the UK has confirmed US intelligence reports linking the hacks to Russia, although UK intelligence agencies are understood to have been the first to alert their US counterparts to the evidence.
Speaking in the Commons, the UK’s foreign secretary told MPs it was “pretty clear” the hacking attack had come from Russia. He said he had told the incoming US administration “we do think the Russian state – the Putin Kremlin – is up to all sorts of very dirty tricks, but it would be folly further to demonise Russia or to push Russia into a corner.”
NPR’s Russia Correspondent is reporting:
Exiled politician: "Russia will use impeachment risk to pressure Trump, can blackmail him by threatening to publish proof of election help." https://t.co/WmFFGMBL9b
— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) January 10, 2017
Илья Пономарев: РФ может шантажировать Трампа, угрожая опубликовать подтверждения помощи ему во время выборов https://t.co/3dCKimNTR7
— Дмитрий Гордон (@dmitry_gordon) January 10, 2017
At this point I am not sure what this means. I know what it should mean politically and criminally and in terms of counterintelligence. But given what we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure what it should mean. I suppose we should start with the traditional questions: what did the President-elect, his campaign leadership and senior staff, the Vice President-elect, and the senior GOP leadership in Congress and at the RNC know and when did they know it?
Update at 6:50 PM
Buzzfeed (h/t: lamh in comments) is reporting that it has the dossier and it has published it.
A dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.
The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Barack Obama and Trump.
Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.
The link to the dossier can be found at Buzzfeed.