OP­ER­A­TION TRUMP

U.S. spies warn him Putin planned black­mail over sex tale – Don­ald rips ‘witch hunt’

New York Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTO­PHER BREN­NAN

Don­ald Trump, who trav­eled to Moscow in 2013 to host Miss Uni­verse Pageant, was tar­get of Krem­lin ex­tor­tion scheme, a source told U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. The Pres­i­dent-elect was briefed about the un­ver­i­fied find­ings last week.

U.S. IN­TEL­LI­GENCE agen­cies warned Don­ald Trump about claims Rus­sian op­er­a­tives held po­ten­tial black­mail in­for­ma­tion against him in­volv­ing al­leged “per­verted sex­ual acts” dur­ing stays in Moscow and St. Peters­burg, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

A two-page sum­mary of the un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions was pre­sented to Trump and Pres­i­dent Obama last week in meet­ings with the CIA, FBI, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency and di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence, CNN re­ported Tues­day.

A longer doc­u­ment that the sum­mary was al­legedly based on was pub­lished in full by Buz­zFeed News on Tues­day. It said that dur­ing a 2013 trip to the Rus­sian cap­i­tal, Trump made Rus­sian pros­ti­tutes de­file a Ritz-Carl­ton bed where Pres­i­dent Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had stayed on a pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion.

It said the in­ci­dent was cap­tured on sur­veil­lance cam­eras.

The ac­cu­sa­tions in the Buz­zFeed doc­u­ments are un­con­firmed, though Trump did travel to Rus­sia in 2013 when he hosted the Miss Uni­verse pageant there. The Oba­mas trav­eled to Moscow in July 2009.

The Daily News could not ver­ify the in­for­ma­tion, al­legedly pro­vided by Rus­sian sources.

“FAKE NEWS — A TO­TAL PO­LIT­I­CAL WITCH HUNT!” Trump posted on Twit­ter Tues­day evening. He and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence both later tweeted a link to a story crit­i­ciz­ing Buz­zFeed for pub­lish­ing the doc­u­ments.

“‘Buz­zFeed Runs Un­ver­i­fi­able TrumpRus­sia Claims’ #FakeNews,” the tweets said.

Re­quests for com­ment from a Trump spokes­woman were not re­turned.

But Trump ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way con­tra­dicted the claim that the Pres­i­den­t­elect had been briefed on the un­sub­stan­ti­ated re­port.

“He has said he is not aware of that,” Con­way said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Mey­ers.” “I ac­tu­ally have to say as an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, re­gard­less of your party . . . we should be con­cerned that in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials leaked to the press and won’t go and tell the Pres­i­dent-elect.”

Pres­i­dent Obama de­clined to com­ment on the re­ports Tues­day, but told NBC’s Lester Holt he hopes Trump takes the in­tel “se­ri­ously.”

CNN re­ported the memos were com­piled by a for­mer Bri­tish spy trusted by Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence who was sta­tioned in Rus­sia in the 1990s but now runs a pri­vate in­tel­li­gence com­pany that does op­po­si­tion re­search. The for­mer MI6 agent’s writeup of the al­leged info on Trump was re­port­edly paid for by those sup­port­ing other Repub­li­cans, and then by those sup­port­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton. He told Mother Jones in late Oc­to­ber that his work “started off as a fairly gen­eral inquiry” but that he be­gan send­ing in­for­ma­tion to a con­tact at the FBI in July af­ter he re­al­ized it was “suf­fi­ciently se­ri­ous.” The 35-page re­port pub­lished by Buz­zFeed claimed Trump par­tic­i­pated in sex par­ties in St. Peters­burg where wit­nesses were bribed to be silent.

The re­port says Rus­sian of­fi­cials, with the ap­proval of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, have been “cul­ti­vat­ing” Trump for five years, and that he re­ceived in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion on po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents from them.

Those on Trump’s team who al­legedly were co­or­di­nat­ing con­tact with Rus­sia in­cluded Paul Manafort, who for­merly ad­vised the ousted pro-Krem­lin pres­i­dent of Ukraine, lawyer Michael Cohen and ad­viser Carter Page, a fi­nancier who has in­vested in sta­te­owned gas gi­ant Gazprom, the doc­u­ments say.

Cohen, who is al­leged to have had a meet­ing in the Czech Republic with Krem­lin of­fi­cials, posted a pic­ture of his pass­port on Tues­day night and said, “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews.”

Cohen told the At­lantic, “The story is com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate, it is fake news meant to ma­lign Mr. Trump.”

Ya­hoo News had pre­vi­ously re­ported that U.S. in­tel­li­gence was in­ves­ti­gat­ing a meet­ing be­tween Page and Igor Sechin, the head of Rus­sian oil com­pany Ros­neft.

Tues­day’s al­le­ga­tions in­clude that Page im­plied that a Pres­i­dent Trump would lift sanc­tions on Rus­sia im­posed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion as relations weak­ened dur­ing the cri­sis in Ukraine and Crimea.

Buz­zFeed said in a state­ment that it re­leased the doc­u­ments “so that Amer­i­cans can make up their own minds about al­le­ga­tions about the Pres­i­dent-elect that have cir­cu­lated at the high­est lev­els of the U.S. gov­ern­ment.”

“The doc­u­ment is not just un­con­firmed: It in­cludes some clear er­rors,” the state­ment said, cit­ing a mis­spelling of the name of Rus­sian in­vest­ment com­pany Alfa Group.

Trump was told in the in­tel­li­gence brief­ing that Rus­sia also had com­pro­mis­ing fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about him, a U.S. of­fi­cial told The Associated Press. The FBI ap­plied for foreign in­tel­li­gence sur­veil­lance war­rants on four mem­bers of Trump’s team this sum­mer, the Guardian re­ported, but was turned down and told to sub­mit a more nar­row re­quest.

It is not clear whether the agency ever suc­ceeded in re­ceiv­ing a war­rant.

The un­con­firmed bomb­shell about the Cold War ad­ver­sary and Trump comes as FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey told sen­a­tors dur­ing an in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee hear­ing that hack­ers had breached Repub­li­can groups as well as Democratic ones.

He said that the in­for­ma­tion was “old stuff” and that there was no ev­i­dence that the Trump cam­paign or the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee had been hacked.

Comey, tes­ti­fy­ing hours be­fore the CNN re­port aired, re­fused to say whether his agency was in­ves­ti­gat­ing any pos­si­ble ties be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia.

“I would never com­ment on in­ves­ti­ga­tions — whether we have one or not — in an open fo­rum like this, so I can’t an­swer one way or an­other,” Comey told the com­mit­tee.

“The irony of your mak­ing that state­ment, I can­not avoid,” said Sen. An­gus King, a Maine in­de­pen­dent, re­fer­ring to Comey’s an­nounce­ment in late Oc­to­ber that the FBI was look­ing at more emails as part of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton.

A re­port pub­licly re­leased last week by the CIA, FBI and NSA said that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment had or­ches­trated the leak­ing of in­for­ma­tion stolen from the Democrats to in­flu­ence the elec­tion and “un­der­mine pub­lic faith in the U.S. democratic process” and to help Trump’s chances on Nov. 8.

Trump has dis­missed re­ports that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment aided in his elec­tion vic­tory, and mem­bers of his team have said that at­ten­tion paid to the hack­ing stems from a “sore loser” men­tal­ity.

Rus­sian of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly de­nied hav­ing any role in or­der­ing the hacks, and Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange has said that he is sure that the source was not the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Main photo shows Ritz-Carl­ton Ho­tel in Moscow, where Don­ald Trump stayed in 2013. Un­con­firmed in­tel source says Vladimir Putin (far l.) and Rus­sia hold black­mail info about Trump for “per­verted” acts at the ho­tel, which Prez-elect dis­missed in tweet (be­low).

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