If you have an internet connection and any minor inclination toward politics, you’ve probably learned by now that President-elect Donald Trump might be into “golden showers,” or sexual acts involving urine, for the uninitiated. That bit of information has spread through social media, but it is part of a larger news event involving Trump, Russian spies, and the future of global politics. 

What Happened?

On Tuesday, CNN, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal published reports that Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed by top U.S. intelligence officials last week that individuals representing the Russian government claim to have sensitive personal and financial information about Trump. The information reportedly came from a former British intelligence officer and was attached to a much larger report on possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report, given by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to Trump and Obama reportedly also revealed claims that the Trump campaign surrogates were engaged in conversations with the Russian government throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. 

The FBI is currently investigating the allegations but has yet to confirm or discredit the claims.

Then, in a controversial move Tuesday evening, BuzzFeed published a 35-page compilation of intelligence memos, from which the report given to Trump and Obama was drawn, with a note that the allegations contained in it are “unverified.” The documents shared by BuzzFeed contain further detail the British intelligence officer’s claims that the Russian government has—for five years—been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump and that they gained compromising information about the president-elect by “monitoring” “perverted sexual acts” that they arranged for him during his trips to Moscow.

What Are People Saying?

On Wednesday, Trump held his first news conference since July and his first as President-elect to, in part, respond to the allegations regarding his ties to Russia. "I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting," he said. "It's all fake news, it's phony stuff, it didn't happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours.”

The press conference came a day after Trump took to Twitter to denounce reports of the intelligence and denied claims that Russia ever attempted to leverage him using sensitive information.

Russian officials have also denied claims that it has compromising material related to Trump. “No, the Kremlin does not have 'Kompromat' on Trump," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said during a conference call with media on Wednesday. “The information does not correspond to reality and it is complete fiction."

Reason, a conservative leading media outlet, has critiqued BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the unverified allegations. “The press works better when it verifies information and brings it to the public's attention, and lets us plebes make of it what we will,” wrote Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “In this case, all we have is a document that may or may not be ‘real’ or a fake.” Additionally, there is a theory being bandied about in so-called Alt-Right social media circles that the whole thing is an elaborate hoax created and disseminated within the international intelligence community by 4chan, a loose network of internet trolls. The theory flies in the face of facts regarding the events, however, namely confirmation from U.S. intelligence officials that the information was provided by a British operative considered to be "reliable." 

Takeaways?

As it stands, the information surrounding Trump's purported ties to Russia and whether or not the foreign government is blackmailing him with sensitive information about his sexual proclivities is still unsubstantiated by U.S. intelligence agencies. It does seem important, however, that those agencies took the claims seriously enough to bring them to Obama and the president-elect himself.