Well, that was something. Welcome to the New Normal, where the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee personally delivers memos to the FBI director, alleging the President-elect’s team has been in contact with Russian intelligence, which has compromising personal and financial material. That was the bombshell dropped Tuesday by Buzzfeed, which published the documents, calling them “unverified, and potentially unverifiable.”
Quickly. The memos, first disclosed by CNN, were written by a former high-ranking British intelligence official hired by Republicans last year to collect information on Trump, were delivered by Sen. John McCain to FBI chief James Comey in December. While the FBI has not verified the accuracy of any of the claims, “U.S. officials had evaluated the sources relied upon by the private firm, considered them credible, and determined that it was plausible that they would have firsthand knowledge of Russia’s alleged dossier on Trump,” the Washington Post reports.
Briefing book. The information was included in the classified report the U.S. intel officials briefed to President Obama and Trump last week.
The first elements of the story were published in October by Mother Jones’ David Corn, but as The Guardian’s Julian Borger points out, Trump’s staffers have been an object of interest for the U.S. intel agencies for months. “The FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.” On Wednesday, Moscow denied having any compromising information on Trump.Then for the Gray Lady Jonathan Weisman regurgitates Trump's tweeted rejoinder, "Trump on Compromising Dossier Leak: ‘Are We Living in Nazi Germany?’"
What Buzzfeed did was to reanimate opposition research (crafted by a former British intelligence official) that had been floating around in the press prior to the November election. Buzzfeed was able to call this news because of Deep State consul McCain's hand-off of the old opposition research to FBI's Comey. Pretty pathetic and desperate. It's reminiscent of the "Dodgy Dossier."