CNN has just released a bombshell report written by top reporters Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein, that says intelligence chiefs last week presented President-Elect Donald Trump with allegations that the Russians have compromising information on his personal and financial matters — and that the Russians did indeed gather info on both parties but chose to only release info that damaged the Democrats:

(CNN)Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.

These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

And here is something that will further erode Trump’s legitimacy in the eyes of a good chunk of voters: allegations that the Trump campaign and Russian governnment exchanged information:

The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.
Sources tell CNN that these same allegations about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians, mentioned in classified briefings for congressional leaders last year, prompted then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to send a letter to FBI Director Comey in October, in which he wrote, “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States.”
CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.

And then there’s this response — which everyone who works or has worked in the media knows is code:

The Trump transition team declined repeated requests for comment.

When a source declines repeated requests for comment it usually means a)they hope the story will go away, b)they indeed have something they did not want to come out or they hope to downplay, c)they’re stalling to come up with a defense, which is often to go on offense. Or all of the above.

Expect Fox News, Sean, Rush, and some conservative bloggers to try and discredit the report, the integrity of the intelligence agencies, the reporters and CNN. This may be enough for Trump’s supporters and GOPers in Congress who above all want to see their decades of conservative dream legislation shoved through Congress — but unless these questions are answered it means Trump, who already has a record-low rating going into office, could see his support go down even futher. Foreign governments may be wary of telling him too much.

Trump already must face a public that indeed believes Russia was behind the hacks:

A majority of Americans believe Russia was behind election-year hacks of the Democratic National Committee and officials in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center survey shows 72 percent of Americans who have heard or read about the allegations of hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account believe Russia was “definitely” or “probably” responsible. Only 17 percent think Russia was “probably not behind” the hacks, and 7 percent say Russia was “definitely not” culpable.

Meanwhile, Trump is on thin ice in terms of public support.

America is not giving Donald Trump a warm welcome to the White House as a new poll found that Trump’s job approval rating has dropped seven points to 37% over the past month.

According to Quinnipiac University, Trump has an unfavorable rating of 51% and unfavorable rating of 37%. The president-elect’s favorability ratings are down seven points over the last 30 days.

Respondents also had highly unfavorable views of Trump’s personal traits:

53 – 39 percent that he is not honest, compared to 52 – 42 percent November 22;
49 – 44 percent that he has good leadership skills, compared to 56 – 38 percent;
52 – 44 percent that he does not care about average Americans, compared to 51 – 45 percent who said he did care;
62 – 33 percent that he is not level-headed, compared to 57 – 38 percent;
71 – 25 percent that he is a strong person, compared to 74 – 23 percent;
68 – 27 percent that he is intelligent, compared to 74 – 21 percent.

Trump is not even in office yet, and he has already broken his own record for being the least popular president-elect in history. Respondents by a margin of 45%-34% believed that Trump would be a worse president than Obama.


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JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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