Last week was a doozy. It came out that intelligence officials are taking seriously the claim that Russia has information on Trump that could be used to blackmail him. CNN broke the news and shared that both Obama and Trump had been briefed on the information.
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. [CNN]
The information came in the form of a dossier, a series of documents, reportedly attributed to ex-spy from the UK, Christopher Steele. Who has, as of late, gone into hiding.
Mr Steele, who runs a London-based intelligence firm, was reportedly hired by anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Mr Trump’s ties to Russia during the battle for the party’s presidential nomination. In the general election campaign the research was funded by an anonymous Democratic donor. [BBC]
The dossier had been circulating around Washington and the news media since before the election, but they were not released because they were yet unverified. CNN finally reported on them, without releasing the dossier or describing any specific claims, because they learned that the information was deemed credible enough to for the president and president-elect to be briefed on it.
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. [CNN]
It turns out that Sen. John McCain was made aware of these memos as well.
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. [CNN]
Here is the Buzzfeed article containing the unconfirmed dossier.
More on what we know about Trump and Russia.
I intend to follow this post with information from the reports but because the claims are unverified I will not include them here. This post is only what is known, verified, and widely reported. [Follow up]