Well, this is interesting - and, perhaps, unsurprising. From Zack Beauchamp at Vox:
Late on Tuesday afternoon, CNN dropped an absolute bombshell of a story — the heads of America’s top intelligence agencies showed President-elect Donald Trump evidence that the Russian government may have “compromising personal and financial” information on him and that his campaign spoke directly with Kremlin intermediaries.
“The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible,” write CNN’s Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein (yes, that Carl Bernstein). After CNN’s report, BuzzFeed published the British officer’s full dossier, which you can read here.
This dossier, per CNN, has been around for some time. FBI Director James Comey was apparently aware of it when he announced that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Comey would have then announced an investigation into Clinton, which turned out to be nothingburger but profoundly affected the election, while sitting on far more significant allegations about her opponent.
But the allegations were only recently deemed credible — not proven, merely worth investigating — so are only recently getting top levels of scrutiny.
“Some of the memos were circulating as far back as last summer,” the CNN reporters explain. “What has changed since then is that US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe and find him and his sources to be credible enough to include some of the information in the presentations to the President and President-elect.”
The idea that Russian intelligence might be able to blackmail the next US president is almost too staggering to think through fully...
Beauchamp goes on to list some of the possible types of dirt that the Russians could have on Trump: business...sex...or even proof that Trump’s campaign directly coordinated with the Russian government. As he admits, this is all complete speculation - "But the fact that we even have to talk about these things shows just how much Donald Trump has deformed American politics — and the notion of the presidency itself — before he even moves into the White House."
Naturally enough, the Russians deny everything.
They must be loving this.