Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin received classified information about Russia's involvement in elections when the Obama administration was attempting to disseminate that material widely across the government in order to aid in future investigations, according to a report Wednesday.
The Obama administration worked in its final days to spread intelligence it had gathered about Russian efforts to undermine the election as well as contacts that associates of then-President-elect Donald Trump had with Russian officials, according to a report in The New York Times that relies on three unnamed former U.S. officials.
Obama officials were concerned, according to the report, that the Trump administration would cover up intelligence once power changed hands. Trump has denied that his campaign had any contact with Russian officials, and he has blamed the Obama administration for pushing the story in an effort to undermine him.
During the course of the Obama administration's effort, the State Department sent documents marked "secret" to Cardin, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Times reported. A Cardin spokesman said in a statement that the senator requested the documents. The spokesman declined to answer questions about whether he had shared those documents and what, specifically, they contain.
"In the course of his oversight responsibilities as ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, in December Senator Cardin requested information from the State Department about Russia's cyber attacks, malign influence, and disinformation campaigns worldwide, with a focus on activities in the European region," Cardin spokesman Sean Bartlett said in a statement.
"What was sent over from the State Department in January was marked classified so I am unable to characterize it except to say that it was shared with both the Republican and Democratic committee staff and was within the scope of what was requested," he said.