U.S. officials have revealed that the FBI has information that suggests Trump’s campaign aides may have coordinated with suspected Russian intelligence operatives to release hacked computer files and emails damaging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, according to CNN.
FBI Director James Comey referred to the alleged evidence that Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russian operatives during his testimony before Congress on Monday, official sources reportedly told CNN.
FBI counterintelligence investigators are currently reviewing and analyzing available materials and information obtained from multiple sources for evidence that senior Trump campaign aides coordinated with Russian agents to release information damaging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton Campaign. The multiple sources of information, according to CNN, include human intelligence, business, and phone records, and accounts of meetings.
But the sources warned that although the evidence taken together suggests that the Trump campaign might have coordinated with Russian operatives, FBI investigators have not obtained conclusive evidence, and investigations are ongoing.
Director Comey had told members of Congress on Monday that the FBI began investigating possible acts of collusion between the Trump campaign and suspected Russian agents after the agency received “credible allegations of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”
Although the White House has declined to comment on the latest report by CNN, the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday, after Comey’s testimony before Congress, that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s aides and Russian operatives.
Spicer insisted that Comey’s claim that the FBI was “investigating” did not mean that the agency has “proof.”
But an official told CNN that information available to the FBI suggests that “people connected to the [Trump] campaign were in contact [with Russian operatives] and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.”
Other officials warned that it was too soon to draw such inferences because the evidence was circumstantial. But, according to the sources, although the FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, investigators were working toward obtaining conclusive evidence.
However, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, later told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, that the evidence that Trump’s aides colluded with the Russians to interfere in the U.S. election was “more than circumstantial,” CBS News reports.
Before Comey’s disclosure on Monday, the FBI had been investigating top Trump aides, such as Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page. Although it is likely that at least one of the four is a subject of the ongoing investigations that Comey talked about in his testimony before Congress on Monday, the officials who spoke with CNN were unable to confirm which of the four, if any, was under scrutiny as part of the investigations.
Sources told CNN that one of the major challenges investigators are facing in the efforts to obtain conclusive evidence is that Trump aides stopped communicating with the Russians due to increased public focus on the allegations of improper ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. A source also alleged that Russian officials have switched their communication channels, making it more difficult for investigators to monitor ongoing interactions.
Besides hacking into DNC and Clinton campaign systems to steal files and emails, the Russians also focused on disinformation campaign involving publication of “fake news” articles released through multiple online outlets linked with Russia. The “fake news” reports made a variety of allegations against Clinton. Some of the reports alleged that she was part of a child trafficking and pedophilia crime syndicate. Others accused her of involvement in a series of murders to silence people who had information implicating her in various crimes. Still others alleged that she was afflicted with a variety of debilitating ailments that made her unfit for the position and responsibilities of the president of the United States.
[Featured Image by Manual Balce Ceneta/AP Images]