Reports: Officials Told Obama, Trump That Russia Claims to Have Damanging Info on President-elect

WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials have informed President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump, according to a news report.Classified documents were presented to Obama and Trump last week, sources told CNN and The New York Times, that included allegations about the purportedly damaging information. The allegations, which haven't been independently verified, came from memos filed by a former British intelligence official whom U.S. intelligence officials find credible, according to CNN.The FBI has not confirmed the claims made in the documents, according to CNN, but they are investigating the accuracy of them.The briefings were conducted by the nation's top intelligence officials — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers — CNN reported.The top four congressional leaders and the senior-most members of the Senate and House intelligence committees -- known collectively as the “Gang of Eight” -- were also briefed on the findings, according to CNN. Other members of the intelligence committees said Tuesday they were not aware of the revelations until they saw the CNN report.The documents have reportedly been circulating for months among top lawmakers, intelligence officials and Washington journalists.Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, the lone Texas Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said earlier Tuesday after a closed hearing that intelligence officials are particularly focused on whether any Americans helped the Russians hack into Democratic and Clinton campaign emails."That's something that we don't know the answer to,” Castro said. “But that's a question that many people are wondering about and hopefully we'll have that resolved at some point."Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community has been under the spotlight for weeks as he prepares to assume control of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. His transition team shot down a report last week that he is interested in restructuring the intelligence agencies and potentially downsizing the CIA.Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland, another member of the House intelligence committee, said Tuesday evening that Trump will need to improve his relationships with the intelligence community once he takes office.“If he’s hurt anybody’s feelings, he’ll have to cope and deal with that,” Conaway said. “But we we need the intelligence agencies working diligently and properly without being distracted by anything else, so that’ll be up to Mr. Trump to make sure that his relationships with those agencies once he actually become president is appropriate and that they understand how he values their input.”Trump has begun to repair any damage by praising the intelligence officials.“I have tremendous respect for the work and service done by the men and women of this community to our great nation,” he said in a written statement last week.Conaway added that he has no doubt, based on the intelligence he has received, that Russia was behind the hacking efforts and that it was done either to hurt Hillary Clinton or help Trump in the election.   Continue reading...

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