CNN reported on Tuesday that confidential documents put forward last week to President-elect Donald Trump included assertions that Russian operatives claim to have compromising material about him.
CNN said, citing several U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings, that a two-page summation attached to a report presented by U.S. intelligence officials to Trump and President Barack Obama on Russian intrusion in the 2016 election, contained the claims.
According to the CNN report, allegations came, in part, from memos gathered by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work U.S. intelligence officials deem trustworthy.
It said the FBI is scrutinizing the accuracy and credibility of these allegations, which are established mainly on information from Russian sources. However, the agency has not confirmed several fundamental details in the memos about Trump.
For months, claims that Russia tried to compromise New York real estate businessman Trump have been spreading in Washington, and they were presented to U.S. officials last year.
The warning to Trump corresponds with mounting concern regarding what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has dubbed a “multifaceted” Russian espionage and influence operation in the United States and Europe.
Along with circulating propaganda and fake news and hacking computer networks, it includes efforts to nurture business and political leaders and uncover compromising personal, financial or other information on persons of interest, U.S. intelligence officials said.
Clapper, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan presented the classified briefings last week.
Proliferating allegations about Trump
CNN said one reason the U.S. intelligence heads took the unusual step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make Trump aware that allegations about him are spreading among intelligence agencies, government officials and senior members of Congress.
An unclassified intelligence report issued on Friday determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed an effort to assist Trump’s electoral chances by dishonoring Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The report further stated that US intelligence agencies have concluded that the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, used intermediaries such as WikiLeaks and others as part of the effort to release emails it hacked from the Democratic National Committee and top Democrats.