Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald Trump was told in a top-secret briefing that the CIA had “extraordinary” intelligence proving Russian president Vladimir Putin gave “specific instructions” on how Russia would hack the United States 2016 presidential election, according to an explosive new investigative report by the Washington Post published on Thursday.
But despite hearing first-hand that the CIA had “captured” Putin’s orders, Trump never ordered an investigation into the Russian meddling and as late as November of this year, after a face-to-face meeting with Putin, said Putin told him that Russia “didn’t meddle” in the election, “and I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said last month. “I think he is very insulted by it.”
In fact, as the first 11 months of his term have progressed, Trump has only become “more adamant” in his insistence that U.S. intelligence findings on Russia’s election interference are wrong, Post reporters Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Philip Rucker wrote in the lengthy article, which may be accessed online at this link.
The information about the highly classified CIA intelligence on Putin’s election orders was delivered to Trump at a January 6 briefing in Trump Tower, conducted by FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper. Though Trump appeared to take the news in stride, according to the Post exclusive, he became enraged when Comey later informed him of information contained in the then-secret “Steele Dossier,” the Post reported.
The dossier, a series of privately produced intelligence reports authored by Russia expert and former British spy Christopher Steele, contains numerous allegations of Trump’s deep ties to Russia and says that Russia secretly prepared Trump for his presidential bid for at least five years before the 2016 campaign. The dossier also contains the now-notorious “pee tape” story, which alleges that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed in a Moscow hotel while he watched — and that Russian spies video-recorded the whole episode.
After the dossier was published online by the site BuzzFeed, Trump posted a message to his Twitter account comparing U.S. intelligence agencies to “Nazi Germany.”
Despite the fact that as early as January 6, Trump knew that the U.S. had obtained specific intelligence not only about Russia’s tampering with the presidential election but about Putin’s active role in the operation, Trump continues to become upset whenever the topic of Russian election interference is mentioned to him, the report says. Even in top-level national security meetings, intelligence officials have learned to carefully avoid the topic of Russia’s election role, because Trump believes that charges of collusion between his campaign and Russia challenge the legitimacy of his election victory.
When issues regarding Russia and the election come up, Trump’s aides are instructed not to enter the Oval Office but instead to take the matter to a lower-level adviser, because Trump is likely to burst into a fit of rage if the topic is brought up with him directly, the Post reported.
Putin himself, a former officer in the Soviet Union’s feared intelligence service the KGB, continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, addressing the topic on Thursday and calling the allegations “very bizarre.”
“All of this has been invented, made up by people who are in opposition to President Trump with a view to shedding a negative light on what [Trump] is doing,” Putin said at a rambling, four-hour press conference.
He added that he and Trump are on such friendly terms that they now call each other by their first names.