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Intel Chiefs Told Trump About Claims of Russian Efforts to Compromise Him

Intel Chiefs Told Trump About Claims of Russian Efforts to Compromise Him

By    |   Wednesday, 11 January 2017 08:55 AM

U.S. intelligence chiefs presented classified information to Donald Trump last week that included claims that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect, officials told CNN on Tuesday.

"I have a sense the outgoing administration and intelligence community is setting down the pieces so this must be investigated seriously and run down," one top U.S. official told CNN. "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."

Other media outlets quickly confirmed the Trump briefing. 

The Associated Press, citing an unnamed U.S. official, confirmed that intelligence officials had informed Trump of the unsubstantiated report.  The official who discussed the briefing by intelligence figures was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Russia denied the claims Wednesday, with a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin calling them a "complete fabrication and utter nonsense."

Trump quickly took to Twitter to highlight Russia's denial.

 

The information was presented to Trump on Friday in his briefing on the classified report on Russian interference in the November election. The same information was presented the day before, on Thursday, to President Barack Obama, CNN reports.

The data, consisting of a two-page synopsis, was included in an appendix to the report that President Barack Obama ordered on the hacking.

Trump was briefed by the nation's four intelligence chiefs: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan and NSA Director Mike Rogers.

The findings were declassified after the session.

Trump transition officials declined to comment on the report — as did officials from the CIA and ODNI, according to the network. But Trump tweeted on the story and other reports just after 8 p.m. Tuesday:

 

 

About 40 minutes later, Trump tweeted a link to an online article about the 'unverifiable" claims. 

 

In an appearance recorded for NBC's "Late Night with Seth Meyers,"  Trump's spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, said of the claims in the opposition research memos, “He has said he is not aware of that.”

According to the report, the synopsis was based in part on a 35-page compilation of memos from a former British intelligence operative, whose past work American intelligence officials considered credible.

Those memos, CNN reports, "originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats."

The summary was considered to have contained information so sensitive that it was included only in an addendum to the classified report that was shared with Obama, Trump and eight top congressional leaders.

In addition, the FBI is investigating whether the allegations in the memos are credible or accurate — and if they are based primarily on information from Russian sources.

However, the agency has not confirmed many of the essential details in the memos about Trump, CNN reports.

The synopsis also included allegations that Trump surrogates regularly exchanged information with intermediaries for the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, two national security officials told CNN.

In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Comey declined to say whether Trump was being investigated by the FBI for any possible links to Russia.

'Especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation," Comey told senators.

Comey, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Russian hackers had penetrated the Republican National Committee’s computer records, but he called it a "limited penetration of old RNC" computer systems that were "no longer in use," The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Comey told lawmakers that that there was "evidence of hacking directed at the state level" and at the RNC, "but that it was old stuff." He said there was no evidence "that the current RNC.” or the Trump campaign had been hacked, the Times and other media organizations reported.

Congressional leaders were told about possible communications between Trump officials and the Kremlin in classified briefings last year, leading then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to send a letter to Comey in October.

"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," Reid said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday discussed the possibility of an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia and suggested that a probe might already be underway.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," the South Carolina senator said: "I believe that it's happening. But you need to talk to them because I don't want to speak for them."

On Tuesday, Graham told Politico that he does not know whether there's an active FBI investigation but made clear he wants a congressional investigation into every aspect of Russia's election meddling.

"I want to know about all things Russia, whatever they are," Graham said. He added that it's possible the Trump campaign could have had legitimate contacts with Russia, saying it would make sense for a presidential campaign to prepare to take over the White House by laying the groundwork for future dealings with foreign governments.

According to CNN, the intelligence chiefs included the synopsis in the report to inform Trump that such information was circulating among intelligence agencies in Washington.

They also included the summary to prove that Russia had compiled data that could have harmed both Republicans and Democrats, but only released disparaging information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The top U.S. officials also said that the information was cited in the intelligence community's argument that Russia intended to harm Clinton and sway the election to Trump.

According to the report, some of the memos about Trump had been circulating since last summer.

U.S. intelligence officials, however, have since verified information with the former British operative and have found the information to be credible.

In addition, eight congressional leaders — including ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees — were also provided a synopsis of the memos on the same day that Trump was briefed, various intelligence and administration sources told CNN.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who first received the information from a British source, gave a copy of the memos to Comey on Dec. 6, according to the report.

The senator learned of the documents from a former British diplomat who had been posted in Moscow.

The FBI, however, had already received the memos compiled through August 2016, when the former MI6 agent presented them to an FBI official in Rome, national security officials told CNN.

The 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 Trump investigations were initially financed by groups and donors supporting Trump's Republican opponents in the GOP primary race, sources told CNN.

But once Trump won the primaries, further investigation was paid for by groups and donors backing Clinton.

Some of the allegations in the memos were first reported by Mother Jones one week before the Nov. 8 election.

The CIA, the FBI and the White House declined to comment on the matter.

In excerpts of an interview with Lester Holt of "NBC Nightly News" scheduled to air Friday, Obama said he wouldn’t comment on classified information.

The president said he ordered a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign to help prevent it from happening again.

"My expectation and my hope is that this work will continue after I leave," Obama said in the interview. "That congress in possession of both the classified and unclassified reports, that the president elect and his administration — in possession of both the classified and unclassified reports — will take it seriously and now get to work reinforcing those mechanisms that we can use to protect our democracy."

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, was asked at his confirmation hearing about the allegations.

“If it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious,” Sen. Al Franken said, after reading from the CNN report. “And if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this camp, what will do you?”

Sessions said he was “not aware of any of those activities.” He added, “allegations get made about candidates all the time, and they’ve been made about President-elect Trump a lot.” 

 

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Headline
U.S. intelligence chiefs told Donald Trump last week about efforts by Russia to compromise the president-elect, CNN reported Tuesday.The information was presented to Trump on Friday in their briefing on the report on Russian interference in the November election that was...
russia, tried, compromise, trump, intelligence, cnn
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2017-55-11
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 08:55 AM
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