In the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency, officials in the administration worked quickly and quietly to preserve intelligence related to Russia’s connection to Donald Trump’s campaign and it’s interference in the U.S. election, according to The New York Times.
The report notes that members of the Obama White House were intentionally leaving a trail so it couldn’t easily be covered up by the incoming administration.
The report via The New York Times:
At the Obama White House, Mr. Trump’s statements stoked fears among some that intelligence could be covered up or destroyed — or its sources exposed — once power changed hands. What followed was a push to preserve the intelligence that underscored the deep anxiety with which the White House and American intelligence agencies had come to view the threat from Moscow.
It also reflected the suspicion among many in the Obama White House that the Trump campaign might have colluded with Russia on election email hacks — a suspicion that American officials say has not been confirmed. Former senior Obama administration officials said that none of the efforts were directed by Mr. Obama.
As Inauguration Day approached, Obama White House officials grew convinced that the intelligence was damning and that they needed to ensure that as many people as possible inside government could see it, even if people without security clearances could not. Some officials began asking specific questions at intelligence briefings, knowing the answers would be archived and could be easily unearthed by investigators — including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which in early January announced an inquiry into Russian efforts to influence the election.
At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low level of classification to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies. This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia, a secret wiki used by American intelligence analysts to share information.
The Obama administration also tried to spread the information outside of the executive branch of government, passing along some intelligence to members of Congress. The Times notes that one batch of State Department documents was sent to a Democratic senator just days before Trump was sworn in.
The White House, of course, has spent the last month trying to tamp down reports linking Trump and Russia. Just last week, it was even reported that the administration took the unprecedented step of reaching out to the FBI and essentially begging the agency to shoot down media reports linking Trump’s presidential campaign to Moscow.
But a flood of reporting and leaks from inside the White House have raised serious questions about the president’s relationship with Russia, and it’s increasingly clear that an independent investigation will be necessary.
Currently, the FBI and committees in both chambers of Congress are conducting their own probes into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election and, more specifically, the country’s connection to the Trump campaign.
Thanks to the Obama administration’s behind-the-scenes work, valuable intelligence that will play a major role in the ongoing investigations is less likely to be destroyed or covered up by the new White House – no matter how hard they may try.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.