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Alex Brandon / AP

The FBI gathered intelligence in the summer of 2016 confirming Russian operatives tried to influence Trump's team — not just the election itself, according to a CNN report out today.

Carter Page's Russia links: One of the targets was Trump's former campaign foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and although we already knew Page traveled to give a speech at a prominent Russian university in July 2016 (in which he lambasted U.S. policy on Russia) the report today reveals the FBI had concerns he was compromised by Russian spies while there. The bureau suspected the spies maintained contact with him after he left the country as well.

Insight: Despite the fact that Page denies any wrongdoing in Russia, a former Obama administration official who was briefed on Russia's influence in the election said Russians working at think tanks, universities, and businesses are often working intelligence roles as well, so Page could have had conversations he didn't know were vital to Russian intelligence operations.

More on what we already knew about Page:

  1. The dossier compiled by a former MI6 agent reported that the Kremlin had tried developing a relationship with Page as part of its efforts to infiltrate the election, as BuzzFeed News reported January 10.
  2. The FBI successfully used the contested dossier as justification to obtain a warrant to secretly monitor Page because — and here's the key — the FBI had independently verified some of the dossier's contents, as The Washington Post reported April 11. We don't know which parts it verified.
  3. Page met with a Russian spy in New York who was trying to turn him in 2013. The spy, Victor Podobnyy, confirmed his intentions in a court filing. Page confirmed he talked with Podobnyy but said he hadn't done anything wrong, as BuzzFeed News reported April 3.
  4. Page met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the Republican National Convention, and although Page confirmed, he said he never did anything improper with relation to Russia.
  5. Page also traveled to Moscow to give a speech in December 2016 at a Russian state-run media company after Trump won the election, which was applauded by a Russian think tank. That think tank, run by former Russian intelligence operatives who were appointed by Putin, had plans to interfere in the election, as Reuters reported this week, citing two documents revealing propaganda plans.

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The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.