US intelligence officials have confirmed some aspects of the “Russia dossier” that rocked Washington a month ago, it has been reported. However, those aspects of the dossier that have been confirmed do not relate directly to Donald Trump.
Last month, it emerged that Mr Trump and Barack Obama had been briefed by US intelligence officials about aspects of a 35-page dossier that was circulating in journalistic and government circles. The dossier made a series of unverified claims about Mr Trump’s personal and financial dealings in Russia - claims he dismissed as false.
On Friday, CNN, which was first to break news of the briefing to Mr Trump and Mr Obama, said intelligence officials had confirmed some aspects of the dossier, which were initially collected by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele. He collected it as opposition research for Mr Trump’s opponents - Republicans and then Democrats - during the presidential campaign.
It said the elements that had been confirmed were several conversations in the dossier involving foreign nationals. None of the conversations involved Mr Trump or members of his team.
It also said that intelligence officials had at this stage, neither confirmed or disproved any of the more salacious claims included in the dossier, which was published in full by BuzzFeed and several other news outlets.
"We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.
He later phoned back CNN: "This is more fake news. It is about time CNN focused on the success of the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation."
Mr Spicer's comment hearkens back to Mr Trump's disavowal of the story earlier this year, conflating both CNN's reported story in January and BuzzFeed's release of the full documents.
"I win an election easily, a great ‘movement’ is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!" he tweeted. "Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed his "profound dismay" at the leak, which was circulated by politicians, intelligence officials, and journalists for weeks before the report.
Mr Clapper said that both he and Mr trump "agreed that [the leaks] are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security."