As the nation’s top spies prepared to brief President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump on Russian interference in the 2016 election, they faced an excruciatingly delicate question: Should they mention the salacious allegations that had been circulating in Washington for months that Moscow had compromising information on the incoming president?

Ultimately, they concluded they had no choice. A 35-page dossier packed with details of supposed compromising personal information, alleged financial entanglements and political intrigue was already in such wide circulation in Washington that every major news organization seemed to have a copy.

“You’d be derelict if you didn’t” mention the dossier, a U.S. official said. To ignore the file, produced by a private-sector security firm, would only make the supposed guardians of the nation’s secrets seem uninformed, officials said, adding that many were convinced that it was only a matter of time before someone decided to publish the material.

Their decision appears to have hastened that outcome, triggering coverage of politically charged allegations that news organizations had tried to run down for months but could find no basis for publishing until they were summarized and included alongside a highly classified report assembled by the nation’s intelligence services.


Read the whole story from The Washington Post.