On Friday Donald Trump, perhaps the most unfit individual to every be elected president, will be sworn into office. Meanwhile, the American people still don't know whether or not Trump and/or his campaign staff collaborated with Russian officials to influence the election outcome or whether or not Russian money was used to finance attacks on Hillary Clinton. Trump, of course has denied any complicity, but then again, Fact Checker found that 76% of Trump's campaign statements were untrue. Plus, Trump denied mocking a disabled reporter even though it was all captured on video. Now, McClatchy is reporting that the FBI and five other federal agencies are investigating to determine if Russian funding was behind anti-Hillary and pro-Trump activities. In short, the investigation has gone beyond only the Russian hacking efforts to actual monetary involvement. Then, of course, there is the continuing concern about Trump's potential respectability to Kremlin blackmail efforts. And people wonder why I plan to dress all in black on Friday! Here are highlights from McClatchy:
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.
The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.
On Jan. 6, the director of national intelligence released a declassified report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an influence campaign to “undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process,” damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects and bolster Trump’s. The campaign included the hacking of top Democrats’ emails and fake news distributed by Russian sources.
The president-elect, who will be inaugurated Friday, has said he believes Russia was involved with the hacking, and he has called allegations that he or his associates were involved a “political witch hunt” and a “complete and total fabrication.”
Trump's presidential transition team did not respond to a request for comment about the inquiry.
U.S. intelligence agencies not only have been unanimous in blaming Russia for the hacking of Democrats’ computers but also have concluded that the leaking and dissemination of thousands of emails of top Democrats, some of which caused headaches for the Clinton campaign, were done to help Trump win.
The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.
The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15 from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia. One of McClatchy’s sources confirmed the report.
Susan Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said she had no knowledge as to whether a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant had been issued in the investigation of Russian influence. However, she said such warrants were issued only if investigators could establish “probable cause” that the target was a foreign power or its agent and that the surveillance was likely to produce foreign intelligence.
At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, Trump’s campaign associates successfully changed the Republican Party’s platform to weaken a provision advocating more military support for the Ukrainian government in its fight to defend itself against the Russian-backed incursion in Crimea.