The FBI, CIA, Treasury Department and three other federal agencies are investigating whether Russia paid American hackers to aid the Trump campaign.
McClatchy News, a respected news outlet, reports:
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.
What Investigators Are Looking For
The article identifies the other three agencies like the National Security Agency, the Justice Department and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers
The six agencies have been following the money since last spring, long before the recent revelations from a former British spy.
The Context of the Investigation
This development comes on the heels of a January 6 DNI report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a campaign to undermine faith in the US democratic process, damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and enhance the prospects for the election of Donald Trump.
The release of this information on the day before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the US will cast a certain pall on the festivities. Late-breaking information, of course, is not new to this election cycle, with FBI Director James Comey’s revelations, or non-revelations, about Hillary Clinton’s emails coming while voting was taking place in more than two dozen states.
Similarities to Watergate
Uncovering the money trail was essential as the Washington Post unwound the layers of the activities surrounding the Nixon-era Watergate scandal. Reporters were told by Mark Felt, widely reputed to be the “Deep Throat” informant, to “follow the money.” Felt, the #2 person at the FBI at the time, was initially identified as Deep Throat by Dawna Kaufmann, a freelance investigative journalist and writer from Los Angeles.
It is unclear whether the money trail will reach into the Trump campaign, but questions of “What did Donald Trump know, and when did he know it” will certainly occupy conversations throughout his presidency, however long it lasts.
Photo credits: cover photo: screen grab from CNN video.