WASHINGTON -- The FBI has been examining a former Western intelligence officer's report that alleges connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Russians involved in hacking Democratic Party emails.
The former intelligence officer was retained by a Washington-based private investigation business, which was paid first by Republicans seeking opposition research on Trump during the primary elections, according to two sources who know the former spy. When Trump became the nominee, Democratic donors continued paying for his services.
In an apparent reference to the documents, Trump tweeted Tuesday evening: "FAKE NEWS -- A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
The 35 pages of periodic reports were posted Tuesday on BuzzFeed. McClatchy has learned that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave the bulk of the report to FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9. The final pages of the report are dated Dec. 11.
A federal law enforcement source told McClatchy that the document was being examined as part of a broader FBI inquiry into Russia's influence on the U.S. election but wouldn't characterize its credibility.
A source told McClatchy that the former Western intelligence expert has extensive experience working on Russian intelligence matters.
However, U.S. intelligence agencies are skeptical about some aspects, a knowledgeable government official said but offered no details. McClatchy obtained the report earlier but hasn't been able to confirm its inflammatory allegations. Some of the events mentioned in the document have been reported.
The 35 pages aren't sequential and are dated between June and December 2016. There are no pages dated in November. Several sentences have been redacted. Some names are misspelled, and three different fonts are used throughout the report. The page numbers are handwritten.
CNN reported Tuesday that, during an intelligence briefing about the hacking last week, Trump was presented with statements in the former intelligence officer's reports that the Russians have compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect. A summary of the 35 pages also has been provided to President Barack Obama and the "gang of four," the leaders of both parties in Congress, the network said.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, several senators pressed FBI Director Comey about what the bureau knows about the Trump campaign's relationship with the Russian government.