U.S. intelligence warned Trump about Russian 'perverted sexual acts' blackmail, report says (New York Daily News link): U.S. intelligence agencies warned Donald Trump about claims Russian operatives held potential blackmail information against him involving alleged “perverted sexual acts” during stays in Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to reports.
A two-page summary of the unsubstantiated allegations was presented to Trump and President Obama last week in meetings with the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and director of national intelligence, CNN reported Tuesday.
A longer document that the summary was allegedly based on was published in full by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. It said that during a 2013 trip to the Russian capital, Trump made Russian prostitutes defile a Ritz-Carlton bed where President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had stayed on a previous occasion.
It said the incident was captured on surveillance cameras.
Mod: What is the chance that video footage will emerge before Trump is inaugurated? I guess it depends on how many members of the U.S. intelligence services want to stay in their jobs.
These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia (BuzzFeed link): A dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.
The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. BuzzFeed News reporters in the US and Europe have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.
Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.
Mod: It appears that the FBI sat on this information for a very long time.
Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (The Independent link): Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who investigated Donald Trump’s alleged Kremlin links, was so worried by what he was discovering that at the end he was working without pay, The Independent has learned.
Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.
However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Either this is a massive Russian disinformation campaign going back many months or the US spy agencies have real intel on a compromised Donald Trump. FBI requesting FISA court search warrants on Trump associates? There’s more than smoke and mirrors here.
During a BBC 4 radio broadcast on Wednesday, The BBC's Paul Wood revealed that the former British spy was not the only source claiming to have knowledge that Russia is possession of sex tapes that could embarrass the president-elect.
“The rumors or the allegations or whatever you want to call them have been circulating for a number of months now,” Wood explained. “I saw the report, compiled by the former British intelligence officer, back in October. He is not, and this is the crucial thing, the only source for this.”
Mod: Of course, if you cross Vladimir Putin, or one of his special people, terrible things can happen. Which is what the subject of this next story obviously fears.
This former British spy was identified as the Trump dossier source. Now he is in hiding. (The Washington Post link): The former British intelligence officer who had a key role in drafting the dossier that alleged Russia holds compromising material and information on President-elect Donald Trump has gone into hiding, according to British reports.
Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer and the director of a private-sector security firm in London, was named as the author of the 35-page packet making the explosive claims.
According to British media reports, Steele, 52, fled his home in Runfold, a village about 40 miles southwest of London on Wednesday morning before he was identified later in the day in a Wall Street Journal report.
Before leaving his residence, Steele called his next-door neighbor Mike Hopper and asked if he could look after his three cats. Steele moved in about 18 months ago with his wife and four kids, his neighbor said.
Mod: Rather like a spy novel, right?
Sir Andrew Wood said he knows Steele as a “very competent, professional operator”. The former MI6 officer has reportedly gone into hiding after being identified as the author of the report claiming Moscow held incriminating material on Trump which it could use to blackmail him.
Steele, who runs the London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Service, is said to have originally compiled the report for political opponents of Trump in Washington.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today’s progamme on Friday, Wood said: “I know him (Steele) as a very competent, professional operator who left the secret service and is now operating his own private company.”
Mod: And how is Mr. Popularity himself holding up under all of this unwelcome news? Politically not very well, apparently.
Gallup Poll: Trump’s Approval Rating Lowest Of Any PEOTUS In Decades (TalkingPointsMemo link): Donald Trump has historically low approval ratings for how he has handled his transition to the White House, with 51 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his performance, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. Only 44 percent of Americans said they approved.
These figures set him far apart from his predecessors. A week before Inauguration Day in 2009, 83 percent of Americans said they approved of President Barack Obama's management of the transition, with only 12 percent saying they disapproved. Even George W. Bush, who, like Trump, lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College, had 61 percent approval to 25 percent disapproval a week out from Inauguration Day in 2001.
Trump’s numbers have dipped since Gallup’s December survey, when the public split 48 percent to 48 percent on approval versus disapproval. They have also remained steadily and starkly split by political party, with 87 percent of Republican approving of Trump’s transition in the January poll compared to 86 percent last month. The percentage of Democrats who approve fell to 13 percent in January from 17 percent in December.
Part of the President-elect’s historically low numbers seems to be the public’s lackluster view of his Cabinet picks. Trump’s nominees were rated “below average/poor” by 44 percent of respondents, compared to only 10 percent of Obama’s and 13 percent of Bush’s nominees.
Mod: Can it be that Trump is an actual traitor?
But that leaves all of us with a problem: How do we explain the overtly pro-Russian behavior of Trump and his surrogates? If they’re not Russian puppets, why do they work so hard to defend Putin and Russia against American investigators and reporters? Why do they divert blame to other countries and victims of the hack? Why, instead of targeting the Russian intelligence agencies that infiltrated us, do they attack the American intelligence agencies that exposed the Russians?
This behavior has been going on for months. In June, Trump openly invited Putin to hack more Democratic emails. Trump’s allies excused this as a joke, but Trump kept going. In July, he defended Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Even after the election, and after U.S. intelligence agencies had reported that senior Russian officials directed the hack “to interfere with the US election process,” Trump ridiculed the intelligence agencies and scoffed: “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody.”
Last week’s intelligence briefing on the hack was supposed to bring Trump around. “If, after the briefing, he is still unsure,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, “that will shake me to my core about his judgment.” But the briefing has changed almost nothing. Trump continues to belittle the intelligence, question Russia’s guilt, divert scrutiny, and attack the intelligence community.