‘Com­pro­mis­ing info on Trump’

Ac­cord­ing to US me­dia, ex­plo­sive 35-page dossier in­cludes sex videos, lu­cra­tive busi­ness pro­pos­als

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORYBYAFP

WASHINGTON— US spy chiefs have in­formed Don­ald Trump that Rus­sian op­er­a­tives claim to pos­sess deeply com­pro­mis­ing per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about him, US me­dia said on Tues­day. Trump de­nounced a “po­lit­i­cal witch-hunt” af­ter CNN re­ported that in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials had al­ready given him a syn­op­sis of the ex­plo­sive but un­ver­i­fied claims.

WASHINGTON— USspy chiefs have in­formed Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump that Rus­sian op­er­a­tives claim to pos­sess deeply com­pro­mis­ing per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about him, in­clud­ing sex videos, US me­dia re­ported on Tues­day on the eve of the pres­i­dent-elect’s first press con­fer­ence.

“FAKE NEWS—A TO­TAL PO­LIT­I­CAL WITCH HUNT!” Trump tweeted af­ter CNN re­ported that in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials brief­ing him last week on al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian med­dling in the US elec­tion had also given him a syn­op­sis of the ex­plo­sive and un­ver­i­fied claims.

The Krem­lin on Wed­nes­day also de­nied the claims, call­ing them fake and aimed at dam­ag­ing Moscow’s re­la­tions with Washington.

Four in­tel­li­gence chiefs last week pre­sented Amer­ica’s in­com­ing 45th pres­i­dent, as well as cur­rent Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, with a two-page syn­op­sis on the po­ten­tial em­bar­rass­ment, ac­cord­ing to CNN and The New York Times, both of which cited mul­ti­ple un­named US of­fi­cials with di­rect knowl­edge of the meet­ing.

Obama, how­ever, had lit­tle to add pub­licly to the bomb­shell rev­e­la­tions. The out­go­ing US leader de­liv­ered his farewell ad­dress on Tues­day evening as the ex­plo­sive re­port was re­ver­ber­at­ing in po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic cir­cles with just 10 days to go un­til Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

CNN gave no de­tails of the al­le­ga­tions but US me­dia out­let Buz­zfeed pub­lished, with­out cor­rob­o­rat­ing its con­tents, a 35page dossier of memos on which the syn­op­sis is based, which had been cir­cu­lat­ing in Washington for months.

Sex videos

The memos de­scribe sex videos in­volv­ing pros­ti­tutes filmed dur­ing a 2013 visit by Trump to a lux­ury Moscow ho­tel, sup­pos­edly as a po­ten­tial means for black­mail.

The memos also sug­gest Rus­sian of­fi­cials pro­posed lu­cra­tive deals in or­der to win in­flu­ence over the Repub­li­can real es­tate mag­nate.

The dossier was orig­i­nally com­piled by a for­mer Bri­tish MI-6 in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive hired by other US pres­i­den­tial con­tenders to do po­lit­i­cal “op­po­si­tion research” on Trump in the mid­dle of last year, ac­cord­ing to CNN.

2-page syn­op­sis

Trump was re­port­edly in­formed of the ex­is­tence of the dossier—and its sala­cious de­tails—on Fri­day when he re­ceived a brief­ing from US in­tel­li­gence chiefs on al­leged Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The clas­si­fied two-page syn­op­sis also in­cluded al­le­ga­tions that there was a reg­u­lar flow of in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the cam­paign be­tween Trump sur­ro­gates and Rus­sian gov­ern­ment in­ter­me­di­aries.

“Noth­ing’s been con­firmed,” Trump se­nior aide Kellyanne Con­way told NBC about the ma­te­rial. “They’re all un­named, un­spo­ken sources.”

Buz­zfeed as­sailed

The in­cen­di­ary al­le­ga­tions came on the eve of Trump’s first press con­fer­ence since his elec­tion—at which he was al­ready set to face in­tense scru­tiny over his re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia and myr­iad other con­tro­ver­sies.

The 70-year-old bil­lion­aire di­rectly as­sailed Buz­zfeed, retweet­ing an ar­ti­cle that blasted the on­line pub­li­ca­tion for pub­lish­ing the “un­ver­i­fi­able” dossier.

Buz­zfeed said it posted the ma­te­rial in the in­ter­est of trans­parency, but ed­i­tor in chief Ben Smith ac­knowl­edged that “there is se­ri­ous rea­son to doubt the al­le­ga­tions.”

But Democrats were left stunned by the de­vel­op­ments.

‘Truly shock­ing’

“If these al­le­ga­tions are true, al­le­ga­tions of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials and Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, and al­le­ga­tions that the Rus­sians have com­pro­mised Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s in­de­pen­dence, that would be truly shock­ing,” Demo­cratic Sen. Chris Coons said on CNN.

Demo­cratic Rep. Jared Po­lis took it fur­ther. “If the reports of Trump be­ing com­pro­mised are not true they must be re­futed,” Po­lis posted on Twit­ter. “If true he should not be pres­i­dent.”

The Fed­eral Bureau of In- ves­ti­ga­tion was pro­vided with the in­for­ma­tion in Au­gust last year, more than two months be­fore the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

Source found to be cred­i­ble

Since then, US spy agen­cies have checked out the for­mer Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive and his net­work, and found him cred­i­ble enough to in­clude some of the in­for­ma­tion in the pre­sen­ta­tion to Trump, ac­cord­ing to CNN.

The ex­is­tence of com­pro­mis­ing and sala­cious in­for­ma­tion on Trump in Rus­sian hands had been ru­mored since be­fore the elec­tion.

The ru­mors gained mo­men- tum when then Senate Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Direc­tor James Comey one week be­fore the vote.

‘Ex­plo­sive in­for­ma­tion’

“It has be­come clear that you pos­sess ex­plo­sive in­for­ma­tion about close ties and co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump, his top ad­vi­sors, and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment,” Reid wrote in his let­ter. “The pub­lic has a right to know this in­for­ma­tion.”

Comey was one of four top of­fi­cials who briefed Trump on Fri­day, along with the heads of the Direc­torate of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence, Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency.

Asked in a Senate hear­ing on Tues­day about the al­le­ga­tions of sus­tained con­tacts be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump team, how­ever, Comey re­fused to con­firm or deny his agency was in­ves­ti­gat­ing such links.

Putin or­ders hack­ing

US in­tel­li­gence has al­ready made the vir­tu­ally un­prece­dented ac­cu­sa­tion that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin sought to tip the elec­toral scales in Trump’s fa­vor by or­der­ing a hack of Demo­cratic Party e-mails.

Trump has re­peat­edly dis­missed the con­clu­sion that Moscow in­flu­enced the elec­tion, while call­ing for a push to mend bi­lat­eral re­la­tions deeply strained dur­ing the Obama pres­i­dency.

At the week­end, Trump con­demned as “stupid” any­one op­pos­ing bet­ter re­la­tions with Moscow.

—REUTERS

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump tweets: FAKENEWS—ATOTAL PO­LIT­I­CAL WITCH HUNT!

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