Obama administration officials left intelligence trail suspicious of Trump on Russia, report says

In the waning days of Barack Obama's presidency, senior administration officials left a trail of intelligence they assessed cast further suspicion on Donald Trump and his team's ties to Russia, the New York Times reported.

President Obama is said to have not been personally involved, a key distinction as President Trump argued on Tuesday to Fox News that the former president was behind the torrent of leaks and protests that have dogged the new administration.

Traditional U.S. allies, including sources from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, provided information to Obama administration officials describing meetings in Europe between Kremlin associates and Trump confidantes, according to three former American officials who noted such information is classified, the Times reported. Further, U.S. intelligence is alleged to have "intercepted communications of Russian officials... discussing contacts with Trump associates."

The goal of the Obama officials was to ensure that alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election isn't "duplicated in future American or European elections" and to aid potential investigators.

Though it increasingly dominates the U.S. political debate, key organizations involved in the publishing of the 2016 campaign hacks, such as WikiLeaks, continue to deny that their source was the Kremlin, or any "state party." In a matter that has been debated since soon after Trump's election victory in November, some have criticized the practices of the Times, the Washington Post and others, in publishing unverified, anonymous leaks from those familiar with intelligence assessments.

The reporting comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire late Wednesday, from a Post report that alleges Sessions, then a U.S. Senator prominently backing Trump, twice had contact with a Russian official in 2016. Sessions denied having any knowledge of Trump team contacts with Moscow in his confirmation testimony to the Senate.