U.S. legislators indicated during a Jan. 10 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing regarding Russia's part in U.S. politics that they will not go easy on President-elect Donald Trump in light of allegations that U.S. intelligence officials briefed him on damning information Russian operatives reportedly have against him.
The controversial report, released as a two-page synopsis by CNN several days before the hearing, alleges that Trump's team and the Russian government exchanged information regularly throughout the course of his campaign, and that the Kremlin has compromising personal, sexual and financial information about Trump and his dealings with Russia, notes CNN.
"In my view, our committee investigation should focus on three broad areas: the Russian hacking and release of stolen information; Russia's use of state-owned media and other means to amplify real and fake news to further their goal; and contact between the Russian government and its agents, and associates of any campaign and candidate," Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member on the intelligence panel, said at the hearing, according to Politico.
Democratic Sen. Rob Wyden of Oregon, another panel member, interrogated FBI Director James Comey on the matter, asking if the bureau had investigated the "reported relationships" between Trump's camp and Russian officials.
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"I would never comment on investigations, whether we have one or not, in an open forum like this," Comey said. "So I really can't answer it one way or another."
Trump's team has categorically denied the legitimacy of any of the information.
"It's so ridiculous on so many levels," Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen, told Mic. "Clearly, the person who created this did so from their imagination or did so hoping that the liberal media would run with this fake story for whatever rationale they might have."
The 35-pages of memos reviewed by CNN initially began as Republican opposition research during the presidential campaign, though no credible source has yet been able to verify whether or not the allegations against Trump are legitimate.