Sen. John McCain says he delivered a secret dossier to FBI director James Comey alleging that President-elect Donald Trump's campaign team had a relationship to Russian secret intelligence.
On Jan. 10, Buzzfeed News published a collection of memos gathered by an anonymous person who claims to be a British intelligence agent. The documents allege that the Trump campaign team had contacts with Russian secret operatives and that the Russian government has been "cultivating, supporting and assisting" Trump for five years at minimum.
Buzzfeed notes that the documents are not only unverified, but contain clear errors. The organization made the dossier public "so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect."
The memos have been circulating between journalists, political officials and lawmakers for months, according to The Guardian. On Dec. 9, John McCain passed on a full copy of the dossier to the FBI, but stated that FBI officials already had multiple copies of the documents.
McCain was initially reluctant to pass on the documents for fear that his actions would be perceived as reflecting a personal grudge against the president-elect. However, the source's credentials appeared legitimate, and the Arizona senator said he felt obliged to send the dossier to Comey. The Guardian reports that the source responsible for the dossier has been described by a member of the U.S. administration as reliable, well-informed and meticulous.
The reports, dated from June 20 to Oct. 20, claim that Russian intelligence has been assisting Trump "for at least five years" with the goal of promoting "splits and divisions" among Western alliances.
The dossier also alleges that Moscow has "compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him."
Trump responded to the documents on Twitter on Jan. 10, writing that the allegations were "fake news" and "a total political witch hunt."
NBC News reports that incoming Trump press secretary Sean Spicer called Buzzfeed's report false and unethical, saying it was a "sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks."
During the same Jan. 11 press conference, Trump did not address whether his staff members were in contact with Russian officials, but blasted Buzzfeed for releasing the documents.
"A thing like that should have never been written, it should never have been had and certainly should never have been released," he said.
Later in the hour-long conference, Trump said that the memo was written by "sick people" and denounced the dossier as "crap."