President-elect Donald Trump was never briefed on the allegations that Russian intelligence services have collected compromising information on him, according to NBC and Trump’s transition team.
Officials prepared a two-page summary of unverified reports that have been circulating Capitol Hill for months in advance of their Friday meeting with Trump, an intelligence official told NBC, but never discussed it with him.
The briefing was shared with Trump verbally, the report said, and no documents were left with the president-elect.
Trump has slammed the allegations in the document as “fake news.” Asked about a report from CNN that officials did, in fact, brief the president on the allegations in the document, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday told “Late Night With Seth Meyers” that Trump “has said that he is not aware of that.”
CNN first reported Tuesday that Trump was told of the allegations in his meeting with intelligence officials on Friday.
Trump on Wednesday said he was “not allowed to talk about what went on” during the briefing.
The two-page summary was drawn from a 35-page dossier — published by BuzzFeed on Tuesday — that contains explosive claims about contact between Trump’s campaign team and Russia, as well as allegations about Trump’s personal conduct allegedly collected by Russian intelligence services as “komperant,” or opposition research.
The document is riddled with errors and contains little verifiable information about its sources. Multiple publications said they passed on publishing it when they first saw it.
“Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government period,” a senior intelligence official told NBC.
Democrats, meanwhile, say the issue is hardly settled. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday pressed FBI Director James Comey to publicly disclose whether the bureau was investigating ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia — exchanges that in retrospect appeared to be oblique references to the allegations contained in the classified dossier.
“I think the American people have a right to know this,” Wyden said. “And if there is delay in declassifying this information and releasing it to the American people and it doesn’t happen before Jan. 20, I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”
Questions continue to swirl about whether the two-page summary of the document was included in the Intelligence Community’s classified report on Russian interference in the U.S. election.
Only President Obama, Trump and the so-called “Gang of Eight” have seen the full, annexed classified version of the report.
House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a member of the Gang of Eight, told The Hill he had “never seen” the complete 35-page dossier — although he said he had heard about it for months.
“I can’t talk about what’s in or not in the report — but clearly I wasn’t given this, I’ve never seen this,” he said.
“We’re going to go back to the intelligence agencies and say, did you use any of this and if you did, where’s your sourcing for it?”
Democrats have pushed for the rest of Congress to be read into the annexed version of the report.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) — also a member of the Gang of Eight — on Wednesday morning lamented that the most in-depth intelligence briefings are not available to more members of Congress.
“I’m all for declassification, to the extent possible, without endangering sources and methods,” she said. “I don’t know that all of that can be made public, but I do think people who have to make policy decisions about it should have access to it.”
Pelosi said she was briefed “completely on the report” on Friday morning, just hours before the same intelligence officials flew to New York to brief Trump on the same details. And she suggested that some of those details haven’t been made public sooner because they remain unsubstantiated.
“I’ve been busy, I don’t know what was on TV, I don’t know what is corroborated,” she told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol.
“But I do know — only from the public domain and not to reference anything in the briefings — that the press has had this information for a long time [and] has not acted upon it because maybe you didn’t have enough proof and [you’re] holding this to a high standard. Which I think is good. So we’ll see what emerges from it.”
The publication of the dossier has already drawn some criticism not only from Trump but also from other journalists who previously passed on the story over concerns that it couldn’t be substantiated.
“If the Trump dossier does prove to be full of inaccuracies, it will resurface in debate every time a credible and supported allegation about Trump emerges,” Atlantic staff writer David Graham wrote.
“It’s irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the internet. I can understand why … Trump would be upset,” CNN reporter Jake Tapper said on-air Wednesday.
Tapper drew a distinction between CNN’s original report that Trump had been briefed on the allegations, and BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the original 35-page document in its entirety.