Russia

CIA Director Rips Into Trump Over Russia

Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan ripped into Donald Trump for “talking and tweeting” about possibly easing sanctions against Russia, saying the president-elect lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to the United States, the Associated Press reports.

Said Brennan: “I think he has to be mindful that he does not have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road.”

Feinstein Says Russia Altered Election Outcome

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told NBC News that she believes Russia tried to interfere in the presidential election and that their activity ultimately altered the outcome.

Said Feinstein: “I’ve had all of the major classified briefings. I have been astonished at what has been a two-year effort at Russia to spearfish, to hack, to provide disinformation, propaganda wherever it really could. And I think this has been a very sophisticated effort.”

She added: “I’m certainly not gonna leave this in limbo, because this is the future of America, it’s the future of democracy. And if we can’t carry out an election without disinformation being pumped into it by another country, we’ve got a huge destruction of our system going on so we have to — we have to be full and robust in this look.”

Russia Relationship Is Disturbing Beyond Wild Allegations

Matthew Yglesias: “Allegations now floating around range from the salacious (Russia has Trump sex tapes made at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow) to the serious (using intermediaries, Trump and Russia agreed to an explicit quid pro quo in which Russia would give him electoral help and in exchange he would shift US foreign policy). None of this is proven, and much of it is unprovable (if the FSB has a secret sex tape, how are we going to find it?) but the truth is that these kind of allegations, though difficult to resist, simply shouldn’t matter much compared to what’s in the public record.”

Ex-British Spy Fears Reprisals from Russia

A former MI6 officer who produced a dossier making lurid allegations about Donald Trump is “terrified for his safety” after he was unmasked by an American publication, the Telegraph reports.

“Christopher Steele, 52, fled from his home in Surrey on Wednesday morning after realizing it was only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge. A source close to Mr Steele said on Wednesday night that he now fears a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow.”

New York Times: How a sensational, unverified dossier became a crisis for Donald Trump

Commission Should Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Max Boot: “There is only one way to get to the bottom of this tawdry affair: Appoint a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission to investigate all of the allegations and issue a public report. The former C.I.A. directors Leon E. Panetta and Michael V. Hayden, among other possible choices, would provide instant credibility if they were appointed to lead such a panel.”

“If Mr. Trump is genuinely innocent of any untoward connections with the Kremlin, wouldn’t he want a full investigation to clear his name? That he so adamantly opposes any such inquiry speaks volumes.”

“Yet the speculation, which was gaining currency even before the publishing of the dossier by BuzzFeed, isn’t going away. The reason is obvious: Mr. Trump appears to be infatuated with the autocrat in the Kremlin.”

Grassley Says Trump Would Be Immune from Blackmail

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) told WBZ in Boston that he’s not concerned that Russia may have information which could compromise President-elect Donald Trump.

Said Grassley: “It seems to me that when you go back through the campaign and all the things that Trump said that ought to give him political problems and all the things that were caught on tape  —  that he would probably just as soon not have the world know about it  –  it’s kind of improbable to me that anybody who knows anything about Trump  —  that’s going to end up hurting Trump. And he was elected President of the United States.”

Russia Says It Has No Compromising Material on Trump

Russia “denied it has compromising material on Donald Trump, calling a dossier of unverified allegations an ‘absolute fabrication’ and an attempt to damage U.S.-Russian relations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov: “This is a clear attempt to damage our bilateral relations. Truly, there are those who whip up this hysteria, who will break their necks to support this ‘witch hunt'”

He added that “the Kremlin wasn’t involved in collecting compromising information on anyone, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

Mike Allen: “Just asking: Would they really tell us if they had the goods on the president-elect?”

FBI Sought Surveillance of Trump Campaign Officials

The Guardian “has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus.”

“According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.”

Officials Say Russia Has Compromising Info on Trump

“Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” CNN reports.

“The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.”

And there’s this: “The two-page document also noted allegations that there was an exchange of information between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government during the campaign, two national security officials told CNN.”

Where’s the Outrage Over the DNC Hacking?

Robby Mook: “Imagine the headlines if, in 2015, Russian agents had leapt out of a van at 2 a.m. in Southeast Washington and broken into the Democratic National Committee offices using sophisticated tools and techniques to steal tens of thousands of documents, including the names and Social Security numbers of donors and employees, and confidential memorandums about campaign strategy for the presidential election.”

“The world would have been aghast. It would have been, people would say, worse than Watergate.”

“Something similar did, in fact, happen at the D.N.C. two years ago, and it was worse than Watergate. This wasn’t just one party spying on the other; these were hackers under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who were trying to ‘undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,’ according to a report released Friday by the office of the director of national intelligence. But the immediate reaction to the break-in was nothing like what followed Watergate.”

Report Concludes Putin Ordered Election Interference

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a widespread influence campaign intended to help elect Donald Trump, according to a declassified report released this afternoon.

From the report: “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Trump Calls Focus on Russia a ‘Witch Hunt’

President-elect Donald Trump told the New York Times that “the storm surrounding Russian hacking during the presidential campaign is a political witch hunt being carried out by his adversaries, who he said were embarrassed by their loss to him in the election last year.”

Said Trump: “With all that being said, I don’t want countries to be hacking our country. They’ve hacked the White House. They’ve hacked Congress. We’re like the hacking capital of the world.”

First Read: “You can count on maybe one hand the issues where Trump has been very consistent. So his constant position here — at least before today’s briefing — is striking.”

U.S. Knows Who Gave Info to Wikileaks

U.S. intelligence has identified the go-betweens the Russians used to provide stolen emails to WikiLeaks, CNN reports.

“In a Fox News interview earlier this week, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denied that Russia was the source of leaked Democratic emails that roiled the 2016 election to the detriment of President-elect Donald Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.”