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Russian agents gathered 'compromising Trump info': reports

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UPDATED: Classified documents that the heads of four US intelligence agencies presented last week to President-elect Donald Trump included claims that Russian intelligence operatives have compromising information about him, two US officials say.

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

Trump responded on Tuesday evening in a tweet calling the reports: “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of the officials, both of whom requested anonymity to discuss classified matters, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other US agencies are continuing to investigate the credibility and accuracy of the claims.

They are included in opposition research reports made available last year to Democrats and US officials by a former British intelligence official, most of whose past work US officials consider credible.

The official said investigators so far have been unable to confirm the material about Trump financial and personal entanglements with Russian businessmen and others whom US intelligence analysts have concluded are Russian intelligence officers or working on behalf of Russian intelligence.

Some material in the reports produced by the former British intelligence officer has proved to be erroneous, the official said.

The FBI declined comment.

The charges that Russia attempted to compromise New York real estate businessman Trump were presented to the FBI and other US government officials last summer and have been circulating for months.

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.

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, they said.

The warning of information about Russia’s compromising claims follows growing US intelligence and law enforcement concerns about what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has called “multifaceted” Russian influence and espionage operations in Europe and the United States.

The classified briefings last week were presented to Obama and Trump by Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.

While CNN has treated the allegations with caution, BuzzFeed News has published an alleged dossier from the former operative, with the caveat that the explosive claims are unverified and that the document contains errors. It says the dossier, a collection of memos written over months, includes “specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians”.

– with Reuters

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