President-elect Donald Trump has been desperately fighting the crisis of legitimacy that looms over his impending presidency, and a new report from McClatchy indicates Trump's problems are about to get much worse, with three key revelations about ongoing investigations.
President-elect Donald Trump continues to face serious questions surrounding the legitimacy of his electoral victory, including the dual intrusions by Russian cyberattacks and the FBI. A new report by McClatchy pulls together several threads related to that interference.
The first is the revelation that six agencies, including the FBI, have been jointly investigating Russia's intrusions into the election since last spring:
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.
Deeper into that report, however, the plot thickens, and widens to include Trump's circle of associates:
The working group is scrutinizing the activities of a few Americans who were affiliated with Trump’s campaign or his business empire and of multiple individuals from Russia and other former Soviet nations who had similar connections, the sources said.
Trump has spent a lot of energy trying to focus on the unsubstantiated portions of a 35-page memo that was leaked to Buzzfeed, but the McClatchy report makes clear that is not all there is. One of their sources confirmed a BBC report that investigators had obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting Russian payments to persons in the United States, and added this detail:
Susan Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said she had no knowledge that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant had been issued. However, she stressed that such warrants are issued only if investigators can demonstrate “probable cause” that a crime has been committed and the information in Steele’s dossier couldn’t have met that test.
“If, in fact, law enforcement has obtained a FISA warrant, that is an indication that additional evidence exists outside of the dossier,” she said.
That BBC report also states that although none were named in the warrant, "three of Mr Trump's associates were the subject of the inquiry."
These revelations deepen the maddening question of why James Comey and the FBI decided to keep a lid on all of this before the election at the same time they were spreading leaks and baseless public condemnations of Hillary Clinton. Comey coyly refused to confirm that the FBI is investigating collusion between the Trump camp and the Russians, but this report from a well-respected investigative journalism outlet indicates that not only are they investigating such allegations, they are joined by five other agencies.
If such evidence of collusion exists, it will come out. The net is tightening, though far too late.