Officials say the FBI has information suggesting Trump aides worked with Russia to hurt Clinton
The FBI has information suggesting that President Donald Trump’s associates had contacts with suspected Russian agents, possibly to arrange the leak of hacked information harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, CNN reported Thursday, in the latest explosive claims surrounding Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the CNN report said the information suggesting collusion included accounts of meetings between individuals – as well as phone, travel, and business records. These, along with human intelligence, raised the suspicions of FBI investigators. This information is now a large focus of the official investigation, CNN’s sources said.
While officials said the information was not conclusive, the report is an indication of the potential lines of inquiry being pursued by the FBI, following Director James Comey’s bombshell announcement before Congress Monday.
Comey revealed that his agency is investigating whether members of Trump’s campaign team coordinated with Russian operatives, as part of a broader investigation into whether Russia interfered with the election. He declined to provide further details, as the investigation is ongoing and involves classified information.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed the claims on Thursday, saying they were “not deserving of being commented on.”
Here’s what we know so far:
- CNN reported one unnamed official as saying that the information suggested people associated with Trump’s campaign were “giving the thumb’s up” to release information – but other sources cautioned it was too early to say that given that the current information is “circumstantial.”
- Neither the White House nor the FBI has commented on CNN’s report, although on Monday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied any collusion had taken place.
- Comey revealed Monday that the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference started in July 2016, when U.S. intelligence agencies say their Russian counterparts began orchestrating the release of hacked emails stolen from Democratic-affiliated organizations and Clinton campaign officials.
- This revelation raised questions as to why the investigation into Trump’s campaign was kept secret ahead of the election, while the FBI went public just days before the vote with the news it had found more emails in its probe into Clinton’s communications – an extraordinary intervention widely seen as having hurt her campaign.
- Four former Trump campaign figures – Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page – have been under FBI investigation for contacts with Russians. Each has denied having any untoward contacts with the Russians.
- CNN also reported that the FBI investigation was not using material from a dossier of documents circulated by a former British intelligence official that claims the Kremlin has compromising material on Trump, and alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.
Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS