When was the first public claim about Trump being investigated by the Obama administration for collaborating with Russia in the 2016 election made, and who announced or reported it?

It would be great to maybe have the dates for both the earliest official announcement as well as the earliest (possibly unsubstantiated) mention.

The reason for the question is because I’d like to have a better understanding of the differences between the Obama administrations investigation into a potential political rival (I know Obama was not running again but Trump was definitely a political rival to the next democratic candidate) and the Trump administrations investigation into a potential political rival.

I know the circumstances were not exactly the same but since Trump allegedly asked Zelensky to publicly announce that Ukraine was investigating Biden, I’m wondering if the Obama administration either announced or leaked information about the Trump investigation during his campaign.

  • 2
    Could you qualify "official"? Do you mean by a intelligence office or some random politician making a claim? As to your phrase, "earliest unsubstantiated mention", are you referring to statements/writings of journalists or authors. Your question could be improved with some additional clarity.
    – BobE
    Nov 12, 2019 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


NYT opinion piece by a former deputy director of the CIA (5 August 2016)

On 5 August 2016 the New York Times posted an opinion piece by former deputy director of the CIA Michael J. Morell. It contained the following paragraph:

In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

This paragraph follows a number of observations of then candidate Trump's actions in public. While it's not a substantiated mention in that it provides compelling evidence (though you might that's a bit subjective), it doesn't claim to have some sort of smoking gun, it does clearly link Trump and Russia.

Steele dossier (reported 31 October 2016)

One of the early accusations were made in the Steele dossier. Wikipedia has an extensive page on that. This is a more elaborate claim than the one in the NYT opinion piece because it claims to have statements from sources with knowledge of the situation. The describe it as follows:

The Trump–Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier, is a private intelligence report written from June to December 2016 containing allegations of misconduct and conspiracy between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Government of Russia during the 2016 election. The dossier comprises 17 memos based on reports from unnamed sources known to the author, counterintelligence specialist Christopher Steele, a former head of the Russia Desk for British intelligence (MI6), written for the private investigative firm Fusion GPS.

The Wikipedia article also includes an extensive section on when and how it was released to the public (there's also a part on the use by others privately, but that seems outside the scope of your question). According to the Wikipedia page (which in turn is referenced from news reports), the dossier was first disclosed to reporters:

Hints of existence Jane Mayer has described how, in "late summer, Fusion set up a series of meetings, at the Tabard Inn, in Washington, between Steele and a handful of national-security reporters.... Despite Steele's generally cool manner, he seemed distraught about the Russians' role in the election." Mayer attended one of the meetings. No news organizations ran any stories about the allegations at that time.

On 31 October 2016, the Steele report was reported on by Mother Jones magazine, according to Wikipedia:

By October 2016, Steele had compiled 33 pages (16 memos), and he then passed on what he had discovered to David Corn, a reporter from Mother Jones magazine. On October 31, 2016, a week before the election, Mother Jones reported that a former intelligence officer, whom they did not name, had produced a report based on Russian sources and turned it over to the FBI.

That would be this article entitled "A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump".


The New York Times, 12/17/2007.

Charles Bagli wrote a profile on Felix Sater, head of the Bayrock Group through whom multiple actors, including the Mafia and the Russian government, laundered money, tying him directly to Trump's new buildings in New York despite Trump's own severe financial issues.

This connection has been verified several times over in the last year, largely due to the Mueller Investigation.

It would only be several years later that it became known that the other major investor in Trump's rebirth-from-the-ashes, Deutsche Bank, was also a front for Russian money laundering.


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