WASHINGTON - The New York Times is reporting that some officials from President Barack Obama’s administration made efforts to make information about possible links between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials easier for future investigators to find.
The Times based its story on accounts from more than a half-dozen current and former officials, some of whom said they “were speaking to draw attention to the material and ensure proper investigation by Congress,” the newspaper said.
The report says information came from multiple U.S. allies, including Britain and the Netherlands, describing meetings between Russian officials and Trump associates that took place in European cities. It also cites U.S. intelligence agency intercepts of Russian officials discussing contacts with Trump associates.
Trump rejected an earlier Times report that said U.S. authorities had information about repeated contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there is nothing to the new report.
“The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election,” the Times quoted Spicer as saying.
An intelligence review ordered by Obama concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the November U.S. presidential election with the goal of helping Trump’s chances of winning.
The Times said the late days of the Obama administration featured officials working to process raw intelligence information into reports that were kept at a low level of classification to ensure more people could see them, and to pass along reports and sensitive information to members of Congress.
The newspaper said that according to former senior administration officials, Obama himself was not involved in the effort.