I posted already about the claims circulated that Russia has damaging information on Trump. Although the exact claims are not verified, the intelligence community has been taking it seriously, so we aren’t going to ignore it.
Mother Jones reported on the claims back in October.
“A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump” [MJ]
This article goes on to mention the ex-spy we now know is Christopher Steele.
a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.
“It started off as a fairly general inquiry,” says the former spook, who asks not to be identified. But when he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.”
This was, the former spy remarks, “an extraordinary situation.” He regularly consults with US government agencies on Russian matters, and near the start of July on his own initiative—without the permission of the US company that hired him—he sent a report he had written for that firm to a contact at the FBI, according to the former intelligence officer and his American associates, who asked not to be identified. (He declines to identify the FBI contact.) The former spy says he concluded that the information he had collected on Trump was “sufficiently serious” to share with the FBI.
Some claims from the dossier,
“Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.” It also reported that Russian intelligence had compiled a dossier on Hillary Clinton based on “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls.” [MJ]
From a new Mother Jones article with more information from interviews with Steele,
“This was something of huge significance, way above party politics,” the former spy told me. “I think [Trump’s] own party should be aware of this stuff as well.” He noted that he believed Russian intelligence’s efforts aimed at Trump were part of Vladimir Putin’s campaign to “disrupt and divide and discredit the system in Western democracies.” [MJ2]
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]