Potentially explosive news surfaced yesterday of unsubstantiated reports, which have already been presented to President-elect Donald Trump, President Obama and the nation’s top lawmakers, and have now been published online by BuzzFeed, that claim Russia has compromising information on Trump and that Trump’s team knew about alleged Russian hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. The allegations were summarized in a two-page appendix to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Trump was briefed on last week. The summary is based on memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative. The information in the memos, which has not been independently verified by the FBI, nor any major media outlets, includes claims that Trump representatives met multiple times with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and discussed the hacking of the DNC and the email of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The memos also allege that Russia has a sex tape of Trump from 2013 involving sex workers. CNN is reporting some of these allegations were reported to top lawmakers during classified briefings last fall. In October, then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to FBI Director Comey, writing, "It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government—a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States." The Guardian is reporting the FBI applied for a warrant over the summer from the secret FISA court in order to monitor top Trump campaign members who the FBI suspected of being in communication with Russian officials. The Guardian reports the FISA court rejected the FBI’s initial application. Mother Jones was the first outlet to report some of these allegations, in an article the week before the election. In response to the publication of the unsubstantiated memos, journalist Glenn Greenwald expressed skepticism, tweeting, "An anonymous person, claiming to be an ex-British intel agent & working as a Dem oppo researcher, said anonymous people told him things." Following the news reports Tuesday, comedian Seth Meyers questioned Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway about the reports. Conway was recently named by Trump to the position of counselor to the president. This clip begins with Conway.
Kellyanne Conway: "We should be concerned that intelligence officials leaked to the press and won’t go and tell the president-elect or the president of the United States himself now, Mr. Obama, what the information is. They would rather go tell the press as unnamed sources."
Seth Meyers: "But the report was—the press report was about them—"
Kellyanne Conway: "It’s an allegation."
Seth Meyers: "—going to the president."
Kellyanne Conway: "And it says that they never briefed him on it, that they appended two pages to the bottom of his intelligence report."
Seth Meyers: "I believe it said they did brief him on it."
Kellyanne Conway: "He has said that he is not aware of that."
Seth Meyers: OK. That concerns me."
Kellyanne Conway: "No."
Seth Meyers: "I’m concerned."
Kellyanne Conway: "No. He is not aware—"
Seth Meyers: "But, in general, I just want to—"
Kellyanne Conway: "That’s not fair."
Seth Meyers: "I understand. No, I understand that—"
Kellyanne Conway: "That’s not fair. And it’s not true."
Seth Meyers: "What is not true? That I’m concerned?"
Kellyanne Conway: "No. That, I—that, I see."
Seth Meyers: "OK. I assure you I am."
Following the news reports, Trump tweeted, "FAKE NEWS — A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" Donald Trump is slated to give his first news conference in nearly six months today. Trump’s last news conference was on July 27, when he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email servers.