Some Russian government officials had discussions about Trump and some people in his presidential campaign team prior to the 2016 election. The conversations they had covered “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top advisors, according to former intelligence officials.
One of the sources claims the information being discussed was “financial in nature” where they speculated whether they could use this as some sort of leverage against Trump and his core team. This of course means that the Russians, according to intel, had reason to believe “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
The sources did, however, warn that the information “could have been exaggerated or even made up” so that they could spread disinformation, like they did over the election cycle.
The details of the communication shed new light on information US intelligence received about Russian claims of influence. The contents of the conversations made clear to US officials that Russia was considering ways to influence the election — even if their claims turned out to be false.
None of the sources would say which specific Trump aides were discussed. One of the officials said the intelligence report masked the American names but it was clear the conversations revolved around the Trump campaign team. Another source would not give more specifics, citing the classified nature of the information.
“The Russians could be overstating their belief to influence,” said one of the sources.
A White House spokesman told CNN: “This is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the President. The reality is, a review of the President's income from the last ten years showed he had virtually no financial ties at all. There appears to be no limit to which the President's political opponents will go to perpetuate this false narrative, including illegally leaking classified material. All this does is play into the hands of our adversaries and put our country at risk.”
The FBI declined to comment for this story. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Flynn did not return calls seeking comment.
Manafort has denied he received any illicit finances and also denied any wrongdoing in connection with his work for Trump and foreign officials before joining the Trump campaign. He has offered to testify before congressional committees investigating Russia's election interference.
The FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the US election, recently handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, includes seeking answers as to whether there was any coordination with associates of Trump and includes examining financial dealings of key Trump associates. The FBI would not comment on whether any of the claims discussed in the intercepts have been verified.
But the US intel community were already investigating the Russian claims in the middle of 2016, well before the public became aware of what was going on behind closed doors.
This will be an interesting story to closely watch over the next few days.
Who knows, we might be able to finally impeach this ass.