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US intelligence chief tells Trump he's dismayed by leaks

Justin Sink, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he has told Donald Trump that the leak of a classified report that details unsubstantiated claims that Russia has compiled damaging information on the president-elect probably didn't come from U.S. spy agencies.

Clapper said in a statement he talked to Trump Wednesday following a news conference where Trump suggested that the intelligence community may have released an unverified dossier detailing compromising allegations about his personal and financial life in retribution for recent criticism and skepticism he's levied toward the spy agencies.

"I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security," Clapper said.

The dossier came to light after U.S. intelligence officials provided Trump and President Barack Obama with a summary of the material as an annex to a briefing on Russian government attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election by hacking Democratic Party computers and leaking internal emails.

"I think it was disgraceful -- disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out," Trump said at the news conference Wednesday. "I think it's a disgrace, and I say that -- and I say that, and that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do."

Clapper said the pair discussed the document and that he emphasized it didn't originate in the U.S. intelligence community. He also said he didn't believe the leak of the dossier, published Tuesday by BuzzFeed, came from U.S. intelligence sources, and that the administration didn't rely upon it when reaching its conclusions about Russian culpability for the hack and release of Democratic emails.

Clapper did indicate that he had briefed policymakers on its existence, however, saying he was obligated to ensure they "are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security." But, Clapper said, the intelligence community hadn't made any judgment on whether the claims within the document were reliable.

Trump for the first time Wednesday said that he agreed with the conclusion that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

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