According to CNN, the Russians purportedly had “defamatory” information about presidential candidate Donald Trump that could have potentially influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.
Multiple sources claim that the intelligence was related to the finances of Trump and top members of his campaign. The Kremlin was reportedly confident that the information was damaging enough to use as leverage.
One source told CNN that the Russians were certain that “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
The news network reported that the Kremlin could have been attempting to disseminate false information or the claim could have been exaggerated.
“The Russians could be overstating their belief to influence,” said a source.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued numerous denials that the Kremlin worked to influence the election.
Congress and the FBI are investigating multiple members of the Trump team regarding possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner.
Both Flynn and Kushner have denied any wrongdoing, as has Trump, who has labeled the investigation a “witch hunt.”
“Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News,” Trump wrote in a Tuesday tweet.
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
A White House spokesman gave the following statement to CNN:
“This is yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the President. The reality is, a review of the President’s income from the last ten years showed he had virtually no financial ties at all. There appears to be no limit to which the President’s political opponents will go to perpetuate this false narrative, including illegally leaking classified material. All this does is play into the hands of our adversaries and put our country at risk.”
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TRUMP TWEET: Russians are laughing