U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and senior members of his campaign team allegedly knew and supported the leak of emails of the Democratic National Committee, according to unsubstantiated documents leaked by a news outlet on Tuesday.
The dossier of memos, published by BuzzFeed, quotes an unnamed "Source E," described as an ethnic Russian and close associate of Trump, as acknowledging that the Russian regime had been behind the leak of e-mail messages originating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the WikiLeaks whistleblowing site. The Trump team in return agreed to "sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue,” and raise certain issues that would deflect attention from Ukraine.
WikiLeaks leaked in the run-up to the elections last year embarrassing emails from the DNC that showed that the organization had favored Hillary Clinton over her rival Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination. The website has also published mails from the account of John Podesta, chairman of Clinton's campaign for the presidential election.
Trump hoped to swing Sanders' supporters over to him, according to an ethnic Russian associate of the President-elect quoted in one of the memos.
“The reason for using WikiLeaks was 'plausible deniability' and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team,” according to a memo. WikiLeaks has said it does not collaborate with states in the publication of documents, but there has been speculation that the Russians might have used a go-between.
The memo cannot be considered as the smoking gun that would prove Trump's alleged involvement in the leak of the emails of the DNC. It is part of a dossier, that BuzzFeed warned was “unverified” and "potentially unverifiable.” The dossier is considered explosive as it claims that Trump was cultivated by the Russians for years in a number of ways. The claims in the documents have been circulating for some time.
A two-page synopsis of the report, based on memos written by a former British intelligence operative, was given last week to President Barack Obama and to Trump by four U.S. intelligence chiefs, CNN reported. The memos are said to have originated as research commissioned by opponents to Trump both within his Republican party and later from the Democratic Party.
Late Tuesday a top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said on the "Late Night with Seth Meyers" show that Trump was "not aware" of an intelligence briefing on the subject. Trump tweeted late Tuesday in an apparent reference to the document leak that it was “FAKE NEWS- A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”
The Obama administration has pointed a finger to Russia and imposed sanctions on the country for meddling in the presidential elections. In a joint statement in October, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they are confident that the Russian government directed the compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from political organizations.