On Tuesday, CNN released a report alleging that top U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia has a dossier of information about Donald Trump, including unverified allegations, BuzzFeed reports, that his campaign staffers were actively communicating with the Kremlin during the presidential election and descriptions of his alleged involvement in graphic sex acts.
Though CNN did not release the documents, shortly after, BuzzFeed published the information, which was apparently presented to both Trump and President Obama in dual briefings last week.
According to CNN’s Jim Sciutto, who broke the news alongside Evan Perez and Jake Tapper Tuesday evening, multiple U.S. officials with “direct knowledge of the briefings” say the classified information has been floating around D.C. intelligence agencies and was also reportedly presented to the so-called gang of eight comprised of the top four Congressional leaders, chairmen, and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. At least one reporter has since confirmed that they had seen the documents before today, but could not verify them, and so chose not to publish their contents.
Trump was reportedly made aware of the allegations last Thursday during an intelligence briefing on Russian interference in the election.
The documents allege, among other things, that Russia has been cultivating Trump for at least five years and that Trump aides were in contact with Russian operatives during the election. What has already gotten the most attention, however, is the allegation that a hotel room Trump stayed in was bugged, revealing that he was present for graphic sex acts that involved prostitutes and urine. However, none of the information is verified, and as BuzzFeed notes, it contains some clear errors and mistakes.
The synopsis itself was apparently considered so sensitive that it was not included in the larger Russian report, which was leaked to NBC last week and later released in a declassified version.
The information was reportedly gathered by a British former MI-6 operative who began compiling opposition research on Trump during the primaries at the behest of groups and donors supporting Republican opponents of Mr. Trump. Once he became the nominee, more research was funded by “groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton,” CNN reports.
The news also helps explain Senator Harry Reid’s open letter to FBI director James Comey a few days before the election, in which he alleged, “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, 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.” In fact, Mother Jones first reported on the allegations in October, a week before the election, though the CNN report and BuzzFeed’s follow-up appear to be the first mainstream confirmation.
Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, tells Mic, “It’s so ridiculous on so many levels... Clearly, the person who created this did so from their imagination or did so hoping that the liberal media would run with this fake story for whatever rationale they might have.”
And Trump himself has now weighed in: