As reports regarding senior White House adviser Jared Kushner's alleged dealings with a Russian ambassador remain the focus of most news outlets, yet another report concerning Russia and President Donald Trump has just hit the news.
According to CNN, an anonymous congressional source, as well as two unnamed former intelligence officials, have reported that Russian officials believed they “had the ability to influence the administration through" what they called "derogatory information.”
Still, they told CNN, claims made by the foreign officials may have been part of a disinformation campaign. As such, these claims “could have been exaggerated or even made up,” since “Russians could be overstating their belief to influence.”
At least one source told CNN that the potentially “derogatory” information was financial in nature, and that Russians may have discussed whether they could use this information to have leverage over members of Trump's team. Sources allegedly stumbled on this information while intercepting communications between foreign officials.
Without mentioning which Trump associates or aides were discussed, the sources told CNN that the conversations involved members of Trump's campaign team.
The White House has refused to confirm the claims made by the intelligence sources, telling CNN that its report “is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the [president]. The reality is, a review of [Trump]'s income from the last ten years showed he had virtually no financial ties [with Russia] at all."
Despite the White House's claims, Trump's attorneys did officially confirm that the president had income from Russia on some occasions in the past.
Previously, CNN reported that Russians had allegedly bragged about being in close contact with Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The New York Times followed with another report saying Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign manager, had also been discussed by foreign officials.
After the president fired former FBI Director James Comey, many inside the agency argued he did so because of the bureau's investigation into Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential campaign. As the probe is now in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump may have a hard time officially slowing the process or meddling with the investigation any further.
As more information into the possible ties between Trump aides and Russian officials are made public, they show this investigation is bound to blow the lid wide open on whether foreign officials have been involved in boosting then-candidate Trump's presidential campaign in any way — no matter how hard the president tries to put an end to this probe.