First, the documents were in wide circulation among top intelligence and elected officials and news organizations. They were being fought over — and acted on — at the highest levels of power. But the rest of the country was getting only the occasional glimpse of those battles, never the source documents themselves.
“The only party to this whole affair that didn’t know about it, it seems, was the public,” as the newspaper editor Seth Lipsky wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Second, the dossier’s contents spilled into view last week when CNN broke the news that both President Obama and Mr. Trump had received an intelligence briefing that included a synopsis of the document, whose allegations CNN summarized as “compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.”
We at BuzzFeed News had, of course, considered that someone else would post the dossier, and planned in that case to follow by adding what we knew on it. We hadn’t anticipated what actually happened: a bombshell report that described the document, while the document itself remained secret.