Thursday, January 12, 2017

What The Trump Dossier Says

The Trump-Russia dossier: what we know so far What latest revelations reveal about president-elect and Putin Read next Trump-inspired rally hits a wall after first press conference UPDATED 35 MINUTES AGO Donald Trump has denounced the publication of a dossier alleging that Russia sought to compromise him © FT montage Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Email71Print this pageSave YESTERDAY by: Catherine Belton in London Donald Trump has vehemently denied claims that Russia sought to cultivate and compromise him, after unverified allegations about his personal conduct and ties to Moscow were published by BuzzFeed on Tuesday, just days before his inauguration. A summary of the “dossier” containing some of the claims was given to Mr Trump by US intelligence agency officials when they briefed him last Friday on Russian interference in the US election, according to media reports. The Kremlin has described the allegations as a “total fabrication”. What is the dossier on Trump’s Russian ties? The dossier consists of 18 separate “company intelligence reports” dated between June and December 2016. It purports to be based on information from a network of well-placed Russian sources. It lays out unverified claims that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Mr Trump for at least five years and that Trump surrogates maintained secret contacts with Russian officials. Related article Five key points on Trump/Russia Gideon Rachman on immediate impact of revelations Who wrote and paid for the dossier? It was compiled by a former British intelligence officer with experience of Russia, who works for a private intelligence firm. His work has been regarded in the past as credible by several senior US officials, one of whom said he had “absolute trust” in him. The former intelligence officer collaborated with another private business intelligence group working out of the US and was initially funded by opponents of Mr Trump in the Republican party. After Mr Trump became the Republican party’s nominee, this work was funded by entities linked to the Democratic party. Why should we trust a dossier funded by Mr Trump’s political opponents? The dossier was handed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to several White House officials in August and September 2016, according to a senior administration official and another person familiar with the matter. John McCain, the Republican senator, said on Wednesday that he had received “sensitive information that has since been made public” late last year. He said he had been unable to make a judgment on the reports’ accuracy and handed the information to James Comey, the FBI director. US intelligence agencies included a two-page synopsis of the dossier in classified briefing documents given only to Mr Trump, President Barack Obama and eight congressional leaders in an annex to the classified report they received on Russian hacking last week, US media reported on Tuesday. US media also reported that US intelligence agencies had also launched their own investigation into the dossier’s claims. FBI and National Intelligence officials have declined to comment. Donald Trump with Miss Venezuela, the winner of Miss Universe, in Moscow in 2013 © AFP What are the main allegations in the dossier? Salacious details of how the FSB, Russia’s secret service, allegedly used secret filming to acquire compromising material on Mr Trump during his visit to a Moscow hotel in 2013 for a Miss Universe pageant and on previous trips to Russia have drawn much immediate attention. But potentially also damaging is the allegation that there was secret communication and exchange of information last year between Moscow and envoys from the Trump campaign. The dossier says Moscow’s campaign was directed personally by Vladimir Putin and that its aim was to sow “discord and disunity” in the US and within the Nato alliance. It alleges “evidence of an extensive conspiracy between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin . . . involving Russian diplomatic staff based in the US”. It claims that the conspiracy involved intermediaries, including Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser. The reports include claims that first emerged in September about Mr Page. It is alleged that Mr Page met Igor Sechin, a close Putin ally and president of Rosneft, the state oil group, during a visit to Moscow last July, in which they discussed the lifting of US sanctions in the event of a Trump presidency. Related article Trump’s Russian connections The president-elect’s links to Russia are a mix of bling, business and bluster spanning 30 years Mr Page has dismissed the allegations as complete “garbage”. He stepped down last year as a Trump adviser amid a furore over a US media report that the FBI was investigating the claims. The dossier also claimed that Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s general counsel, met Russian officials during a secret visit to Prague either at the end of August last year or early September. The meeting allegedly took place at the Prague offices of Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian state organisation for cultural exchanges. Mr Cohen is alleged to have discussed contingency plans to cover up the Russian operation to support Trump. Mr Cohen has denied ever having visited the capital of the Czech Republic. Is any of the dossier true? Like some other news media, the Financial Times was given access to the dossier and spent time last year attempting to verify some of its claims, but has so far been unable to do so. The dossier makes extensive use of what it calls unnamed intelligence sources within the Russian government to report what it says are secret Kremlin activities. What has Mr Trump said? FT World Weekly Trump’s confirmation hearings: nominees in the spotlight A series of confirmation hearings for president-elect Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominees began in the Senate this week, with Democrats eager to grill candidates. How smooth is the process likely to be and who is vulnerable? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Courtney Weaver, the FT’s White House correspondent, and Barney Jopson, the US policy correspondent in Washington Mr Trump has tweeted to denounce the dossier as “FAKE NEWS — A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT”. He has repeated his assertions that he has no business interests in Russia and no Russian loans. Mr Trump dismissed the more salacious findings of the dossier at a news conference on Wednesday, saying that he was always wary of hidden cameras when travelling. “I am extremely careful, because . . . in those rooms you have cameras in the strangest places . . . You can’t see them and you won’t know.” He lashed out at those who had allowed the leak of the claims, likening the behaviour to “something that Nazi Germany would have done”. He called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage” for publishing the report. Asked whether he accepted intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia had hacked Democratic party computers during the election, releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign via WikiLeaks, he acknowledged for the first time that Moscow was to blame. “I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,” he said. Why didn’t the information in the dossier come out earlier? One senior administration official with knowledge of the situation has said that White House officials were reluctant to confirm they were examining the dossier before the election because they did not want to be seen to be trying to influence the electoral process. “People were respecting their institutional obligations ahead of the general election,” this official said. “The question whether we should do this when you have a foreign power engaging in the way Russia did is an important foreign policy question.” Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web. Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Email71Print this page

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