A new report from CNN is saying that the US has intercepted conversations where Russian officials can be heard bragging about having “derogatory” information on Donald Trump and high-ranking aides in the Trump campaign.
The Russians believed the information had the potential to be severely damaging to Trump and his aides and that the knowledge could be used to influence the administration. The sources, including two from US intelligence agencies and one Congressional source with knowledge of the intelligence, indicates that the information is financial in nature.
But the sources are also quick to warn that it is entirely possible that the Russian claims are exaggerated or even made up entirely. The discussions could have been part of planning the misinformation campaign the Russians ran during the 2016 US Presidential elections.
No names of Trump aides are given, either. The names of Americans in the report are masked, and the sources were wary of revealing too much detail about classified reports.
Earlier reports have shown that the Russians bragged about cultivating relationships with aides close to Trump. Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort were both considered as means for the Russians to exert influence over Trump. Manafort has since resigned, and Flynn was fired over ties to Russia, but both maintain they have done nothing illegal.
For its part, the White House is dismissing the reports as false.
“This is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the President,” a spokesman told CNN. “The reality is, a review of the President’s income from the last ten years showed he had virtually no financial ties at all.”
The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was recently handed over to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. The probe includes seeking answers to whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign, as well as any financial dealings with the Russians.
Thus far, the claims remain unverified, and attempts by several news sources to get a statement on the latest report have gone unanswered by the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and from Flynn himself.