President-elect Donald Trump has responded to allegations that Russia has compromising information about him.
CNN reported Tuesday that Trump was informed of the allegations in a classified intelligence briefing. BuzzFeed has published a 35-page dossier that details these unverified and “potentially unverifiable” personal and financial allegations.
[One of the most salacious details in the document: “golden showers”]
Multiple unnamed sources told CNN the allegations were included in a two-page memo presented to Trump and President Barack Obama as part of an intelligence briefing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The memo also alleged that there was ongoing communication between Trump’s team and representatives of the Russian government.
Multiple outlets are sourcing the origin of the memos to a former British intelligence operative, who allegedly informed an FBI official in Rome that the Russians possessed the information about Trump. He has not been identified, but CNN reports that he was a former MI6 agent “who was posted in Russia in the 1990s and now runs a private intelligence gathering firm.”
The operative has been investigated and considered to be credible by American intelligence, CNN reports.
The report “originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans and then by Democrats,” CNN says.
CNN did not detail the specific allegations included in the memo because the network has not yet independently confirmed them. They report that the FBI is investigating whether the allegations about Trump are credible.
“The documents have circulated for months, and acquired a kind of legendary status among journalists, lawmakers and intelligence officials who have seen them,” BuzzFeed wrote. Journalists on Twitter said they were approached with the document, but did not write the story because they were unable to verify the claims in the document.
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith defended his outlets publication of the letter, noting “there is serious reason to doubt these allegations” but “publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”
Trump was not the only one to call the report “fake news,” or to suggest that the dossier was driven by a political agenda. Matt Drudge suggested that perhaps corrupt parts of the U.S. intelligence community were actually attempting to blackmail Trump or exact revenge.
BuzzFeed reports that a summary of the allegations was shared with the “Gang of Eight,” congressional leaders who are briefed on national security and intelligence matters.
Adam Jentleson, former spokesman for former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, said in a tweet that the former minority leader was referring to this issue in a letter he sent FBI Director James Comey in October.
Reid’s letter said, in part, “it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information.”
The Guardian reports that “the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus.”
In October, Mother Jones published an article in which they quoted an unnamed Western former senior intelligence officer who said he had given the FBI 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.”
The reporter who wrote that story, David Corn, explained on Tuesday why he didn’t publish the document along with his piece.