Clapper: Leak Damaging to US National Security
Reports late Tuesday of Russia having “compromising” information on President-elect Donald Trump quickly escalated into a media frenzy on Wednesday, with the release of the full dossier making the allegations by Buzzfeed, which both fueled serious doubts about the veracity of the claims and a flurry of speculation surrounding some of sexual allegations therein.
The dossier makes several different claims, none of them substantiated beyond the claims of alleged and anonymous officials, accusing the Trump campaign of direct cooperation with Russia on the election, trading dirt on Hillary Clinton for intelligence somehow collected by the Trump team on Russian oligarchs living in the US, and providing leaked Clinton emails in return for Trump expressing doubt about US support for NATO.
The more salacious aspects of the report got the most attention, however, centering on claims that Russia had substantial dirt on Trump himself, not the least of which a 2013 video in which Trump putatively rented the presidential suite at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, knowing that the Obamas had stayed there, explicitly to “defile” their bed.
The “defiling,” if the dossier was to be believed, involved Trump throwing a wild “golden shower party” involving multiple Russian prostitutes urinating on one another. The dossier further claims Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, had multiple concealed cameras and microphones in the room at the time.
Needless to say, this sort of allegation that Trump both organized such a party and was caught on tape doing so would be a potential scandal, if true, but the realibility of the dossier is in major doubt, not the least of which because of the many wild claims made therein.
The dossier also isn’t as “new” as it would seem, as while it was just leaked to the public last night, it had reportedly been circulating in political circles for months, and Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) reportedly handed it off to the intelligence community. The FBI is said to have had the dossier since August.
Trump of course denies the allegations, as does the Kremlin. Trump angrily faulted the intelligence community for the release of the dossier, claiming it was “unfair” and the sort of thing that would happen in Nazi Germany.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed doubt the dossier had been leaked by the intelligence community directly, and indeed it appears more than a few media outlets have had ahold of it for awhile. At the same time, Clapper insisted the leak was “damaging to our national security.”
Clapper added that the US intelligence community has not made any judgement that the dossier is factual, though some reports suggest the FBI used it as the basis for a FISA warrant aiming to launch surveillance operations against multiple members of the Trump campaign during the election. In a rare move, FISA is said to have denied the request.
Despite the huge doubts surrounding the dossier, it seems securely in the center of US political discourse for the time being, and has supplanted the hacking allegations from the headlines, despite this unsubstantiated series of allegations being even further removed from any actual sources and evidence than the hacking was.
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