Russia cultivating & supporting Trump for years: Reports

SansadTV Bureau
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Tampa, Florida.

File photo of President-elect Donald Trump

Russia “cultivated” and “supported” Donald Trump for years and has collected compromising information on his personal life and finances, multiple media reports in the US stated on Wednesday. The charge was dismissed by the President-elect as a “political witch hunt”. Kremlin too denied the reports saying they were fake.

Trump tweeted his reaction to the  news to say, “”FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

And Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists,”The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump.”

Popular news website BuzzFeed, which released the unverified document, reported that an “explosive” but “unsubstantiated” dossier, which alleged that Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for years and gained compromising information about him, has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.

Classified documents that the heads of four U.S. intelligence agencies presented last week to President-elect Donald Trump included claims that Russian intelligence operatives have compromising information about him, two U.S. officials said Tuesday evening.

US officials told Reuters the claims, which one called “unsubstantiated,” were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that U.S. intelligence officials presented to Trump and President Barack Obama last week.

The FBI initially took the material seriously, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, which was first reported by CNN.

“The document was prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent,” Buzzfeed said.

A senior US official with access to the document said that the allegations were presented at least in part to underscore that Russia appeared to have collected embarrassing information on both major candidates but released only material that might harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, the FBI failed to act on the material, and the former British intelligence officer broke off contact about three weeks before the November election, officials said.

In addition to hacking computer networks and spreading propaganda and fake news, it includes efforts to cultivate business and political leaders and find compromising personal, financial and other information on persons of interest, U.S. intelligence officials said.

U.S. intelligence chiefs included a classified summary of the material to make Trump aware that it is circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress, government officials and others, one of the officials said.

An unclassified intelligence report released on Friday concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a reflection of Russian motivation that bolstered US spy agencies’ conclusion that Moscow sought to help Trump win the presidential election, The Washington Post said.

The two-page synopsis further claimed that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, a CNN report said.

The New York Times said the uncorroborated summary says that Russia had salacious information about Trump.

Earlier, a declassified intelligence report released on Friday has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign,” that included hacking of Democratic party groups, in an effort to help Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

(With inputs from agencies)