I’ve long said that if people wanted to get a look at Trump’s tax returns, they might need to ask the Russians.
A new report out today claims that two former intelligence sources, as well as a source from congress are saying that intercepted communications between Russian government officials suggests they may have “derogatory” information on Trump.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
But the sources, privy to the descriptions of the communications written by US intelligence, cautioned the Russian claims to one another “could have been exaggerated or even made up” as part of a disinformation campaign that the Russians did during the election.
In other words, they likely know their conversations could be intercepted, so they might say things just to confuse whoever is listening.
Much of the communications were centered on Trump’s campaign team, which leads officials to believe there were a real effort to influence the election through those contacts.
In previous communications, the Russian officials were said to be boasting of the relationship they had with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager.
Manafort has begun the process of cooperating with authorities, by turning over requested paperwork to be examined.
Flynn, however, is refusing to cooperate, and may soon have his business subpoenaed, in order to force compliance.
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 US counterintelligence investigators were already looking into the Russian claims during the summer of 2016, before the public became aware of similar claims in a dossier created for political opponents of Trump by a former British spy. The former spy, Christopher Steele, shared some of those findings with the FBI during the summer of 2016.
And while not all of the claims in the dossier have been proven (I’m assuming the being peed on by Russian hookers thing), some details have been confirmed, according to sources.