CNN is reporting that communication intercepts made during the election indicate that the Russians believe they have information that could be used against Trump and those close to him.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump's inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information."
What’s the nature of this information? It could be details of how Russian oligarchs bailed Trump out of bankruptcy when no bank would touch him, using Trump’s real estate holdings to launder money coming into the US.
… a series of very deep studies published in the [Financial Times] that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. ...
The money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources.
He was their man.
There are cautions attached to CNN’s report, as the sources that contacted them only have the Russian’s word for the value of their information, they haven’t seen the information directly. What seems to be clear is that the Russians thought—think—they have details that put the Trump regime under the Kremlin’s thumb.
The Trump White Hosue trotted out a prompt denial.
A White House spokesman told 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."
The “review” in question apparently refers to a letter issued earlier this month in which a letter from one of Trump’s legal firms indicates that Trump’s … “tax returns from past 10 years show no ‘income of any type from Russian sources,’ with few exceptions.” Except that the firm didn’t release Trump’s taxes, carefully avoided many sources of revenue, excused themselves from counting money that Trump didn’t tell them came from Russia and, oh yeah, had millions in those “few exceptions.”
The letter was such an ineffective bit of cover that it, quite rightly, seemed to vanish from view as soon as it appeared, through Trump spokesmen are still trying to invoke its mealy phrases as if they’re definitive.
The conversations in which the Russians bragged about having Trump & Friends in the bag seem to have been meant for internal consumption.
CNN has not been able to verify the allegations about the derogatory information in the dossier, but current and former US officials say some of the Russia-to-Russia conversations in the dossier have been corroborated.
These weren’t conversations aimed at getting out to the public. These were the Russians bragging among themselves about their hold on the Trump regime. That makes it seem unlikely this was part of the broad distribution of propaganda used to assist Trump.
Both CNN and the New York Times have noted that the information includes discussion of Russia’s grip on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and may include information on Trump’s former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort.
Considering that Manafort obtained a mysterious loan immediately after leaving Trump’s campaign and used that to leverage the purchase of multi-million dollar oceanfront property, looking into his finances seems like a fair bet.
However, when talking about potential financial data that could provide leverage over someone close to Trump … don’t forget Jared.