While many questions remain about the dossier, initial leaks reveal Trump’s advisers contacted Russian officials for intel ahead of his election win
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The first reporters to get to the bottom of a far-reaching memo that accused Donald Trump’s then campaign manager of having links to Russia have revealed what the Americans knew beforehand.
Washington Post writers Glen Kessler and Alison Spann on Tuesday published the top-secret Kremlin document that detailed unnamed “senior Russian officials” telling four American intelligence agencies about repeated contacts between representatives of Trump’s campaign and Moscow’s representatives, “allegedly including Russian intelligence operatives”.
It named as one of the central figures a wealthy Russian lawyer who, it alleged, was on Trump’s payroll. The allegations, made later to the Senate intelligence committee, only emerged in news accounts early in November.
But while they contained notable details – Trump’s campaign advisers contacted Russian intelligence agents for help ahead of his election – the first indications suggest that initial American officials were uncertain of the nature of the alleged contacts.
One of the Americans complained “that the Russian officials’ trust in one of the Americans was clearly shaken” when the Americans learned of the contact during an unclassified briefing in July.
Another US official described such contacts as “potentially alarming but also hard to assess with certainty, since it is difficult to prove and the officials from Trump’s campaign remain unknown”.
It also emerged that Donald Trump Jr had in August first met one of the cited Russian officials to discuss Russian support for his father’s campaign.
When pressed on the link at a press conference, Trump Jr replied “not that I know of”. But two days later, The New York Times reported that he met with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
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Two weeks after the New York Times story, however, Trump Jr posted a series of tweets clarifying that his emails with Veselnitskaya were genuine, after which the Times clarified its story.
Despite earlier reports that Russia had hacked into Democratic email accounts, the current president, Donald Trump, has repeatedly sought to cast the dirt dug up by the Moscow-linked information company Aleksej Gubarev – and used by the Democratic party – as an American conspiracy.
“Many people have said and will say that the Russian hoax continues to get more and more ridiculous!” Trump tweeted in June.
Then in October, he followed it up by telling a gathering of Americans at the United Nations in New York: “Many people are saying that the Russian hoax continues to get more and more ridiculous!”