What Trump cards does Putin have?

The president-elect’s transition team has refrained from commenting on the issue, but Donald Trump tweeted late Tuesday night calling the “fake” news reports a “total political witch hunt”.

Written by Aditi Anand | New Delhi | Updated: January 11, 2017 3:20 pm
Russia, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Russia Trump, Trump Russia, Trump Putin, Putin Trump, Russia news, US news, US Russia, World news US President-elect Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin (Source: AP Photos)

Soon after FBI Director James Comey announced that the investigative agency would re-open the probe in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, 11 days before the country went to polls, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused Comey of sitting on “explosive” material linking the now US president-elect Donald Trump to Russia.

Since then, 17 national intelligence agencies, including the CIA, have reached a consensus that Moscow hampered with the democratic election process, effectively tipping the scale in Trump’s favour. With new reports emerging everyday, the speculations of ties between Trump and Vladimir Putin’s government are catching on.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that during an intelligence briefing last week, President Barack Obama and Trump were presented documents that indicated the Russian operatives may have compromising personal and financial information about the latter. Buzzfeed made the dossier, on which the intelligence briefing was based, public soon after the CNN report. The documents first came in circulation after a report in Mother Jones in late October.

Considering the already known facts about Donald Trump’s past, political analysts believe that this possible evidence could be truly damaging. What this information may be isn’t exactly clear, but here’s a list of what Kremlin might be able to hold over the president-elect.

Net worth?

Speculations that Trump isn’t worth as much as he claims have been going around since when he wasn’t even running for president. His outbursts over people questioning his net worth have been infamously recorded, most notably when he sued a journalist for it in 2005. According to a list provided to Comedy Central before his roast in 2011, Trump was reportedly okay with jokes hinting that he has incestuous relations with his daughter, but not about his money. He never released his taxes, breaking away from all past US presidential nominees. If Russians have evidence proving that his net worth isn’t what he says, it could be damning for Trump’s political career.

Direct ties with Kremlin?

CNN, in its report Tuesday said, “The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” On Wednesday the The Guardian released a report claiming, Senator John McCain too passed documents to the FBI director last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow. These claims, if true, can harm the legitimacy of Trump and his actions as president.

Possible sex scandal?

Probably the most discussed and, if proven, potentially the most damaging is the theory that the evidence Russia has against the president-elect are videos capturing him in a compromising position. This evidence is believed to be recorded when Trump was in Moscow to hold the Miss Universe Pageant in 2012. In December, a Mother Jones report had said that the president-elect was spied on during his stay. The dossier put out by BuzzFeed makes “graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians.”

The president-elect’s transition team has refrained from commenting on the issue, but Trump tweeted late Tuesday night calling the news reports “fake”, and a “total political witch hunt”.