The Obama Administration was engaged in a heated, last-ditch effort to collect and preserve incriminating information regarding Russian interference in the US presidential election, as well as contacts between President-elect Donald Trump and the Russians, The NY Times reported on Thursday. Their purpose, clearly, was to furnish a future special prosecutor with all the information he or she would need to take down the new president.
The British and the Dutch, according to former anonymous American officials speaking to the Times, provided information on meetings between President Vladimir Putin’s and Trump’s associates in European cities. Also, US intelligence agencies intercepted conversations of Kremlin officials discussing contacts with Trump associates. All this material was tagged and stored in preparation for the special prosecutor whose appointment now seems likely.
The current crisis surrounding the Trump White House resulted from new questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Russian connections. According to several anonymous US sources, Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, twice in 2016. Should the information be verified, it would conflict with Sessions’s testimony in his confirmation hearing in January when he assured Congress he “did not have communications with the Russians.”
AG Sessions released a statement Wednesday saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.” He added, “I have no idea what this allegation is about, it is false.”
President-elect Trump denied his campaign had contacts with the Russian government, accusing the US intelligence agencies as well as the Obama administration of hyping the story about his Russian ties to sabotage his administration.
The Obama White House became concerned that the Trump White House might delete any reference to the campaign’s Russian ties, and so, in the last few weeks before the changing of the guards, worked around the clock to protect the potentially explosive data.
According to the Times’ report, the White House and State Dept. sent the newly collected data to members of Congress, most notably Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland just before inauguration day
On Wednesday, a Justice Department official confirmed that AG Sessions had two conversations with Ambassador Kislyak last year, when he was still a senator, a fact he misrepresented at his confirmation hearing, when he testified he had no contact with the Russians.
Sessions’s spokeswoman said “there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer,” since the conversations in question were not as a Trump campaign activist.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House, demanded that Sessions to resign, Tweeting that “he is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country.”