America's top intelligence officials have briefed President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump on allegations that Russian operatives "claim to have compromising personal and financial information" about Trump, CNN reported Tuesday evening. According to the network, these allegations were included in a two-page memo that was appended to the intelligence community's assessment that concluded that Russia had hacked political targets during the US presidential election in order to benefit Donald Trump. From CNN:
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.
The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.
In late October, Mother Jones' David Corn first reported that a former Western counterintelligence official with nearly two decades of experience on "Russian intelligence matters" had been assigned the task of looking into Trump's dealings with Russia as part of an opposition research effort initially funded by a Republican donor. This official was so alarmed by what he discovered that he passed the intelligence to the FBI. As Corn reported:
"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.
Mother Jones has reviewed that report and other memos this former spy wrote. The first memo, based on the former intelligence officer's conversations with Russian sources, noted, "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."
In Mother Jones' original report, we did not publish the memos drafted by the intelligence official or cite specific details from the documents because the allegations could not be confirmed. After the CNN report was published, at least one other news outlet posted the memos.
Trump has yet to respond to the CNN report. According to the network, the President-elect's transition team is preparing to issue a statement.