It’s no secret House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes will continue his investigation into the creation and use of the Steele dossier now that he and the committee have established they believe it was funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC and improperly used to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page.
And it’s no secret he’s turning his focus on the State Department and their role passing “intelligence” from foreign sources through Clinton associates (possibly Sidney Blumenthal) to former British intelligence officer Michael Steele for inclusion in the dossier.
But what broke yesterday may just be the biggest scandal of an almost unbelievably scandalous story: Nunes is also turning his attention to former CIA chief John Brennan according to a lightning bolt of a story published in Real Clear Investigations.
According to their investigation, the Committee’s memo, released last week, detailing possible abuses at the FBI and DOJ in securing the FISA warrant to surveil Page (notably a lack of disclosure about who funded the dossier and how many senior officials may have been aware of that funding without informing the FISA judge) and a planned deep dive into what happened at the State Department are nowhere near the end of what Nunes plans to examine.
“Those are the first two phases” of Nunes’ multipart inquiry, a senior investigator said. “In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus.”
The aide, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as President Obama’s first CIA director, Leon Panetta, along with the former president’s intelligence czar, James Clapper, and national security adviser, Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials.
“John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier,” the investigator said. “He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump.”
Brennan, the RCI piece alleges, was known to be a highly political CIA director — one source even goes so far as to refer to him as a “sycophant” while others say he was “responsible for much of the anti-Trump bias from the intelligence community [IC] during the campaign and transition period” — and may even have perjured himself last May when he said in public testimony that the dossier hadn’t played any role in the IC’s assertion that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document (excerpt here), even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Another bombshell included in their report: Brennan may actually have been the initial spark that lit the fire that was to become the Russian collusion investigation by giving a somewhat unprecedented private briefing to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) informing him the FBI would be investigating what the IC believed was a plot by the Russians to help Trump:
On Aug. 25, 2016, for example, the CIA chief gave an unusual private briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in which he told Reid the Russians were backing Trump and that the FBI would have to take the lead in an investigation because the FBI is the federal agency in charge of domestic intelligence and, unlike the CIA, can spy on U.S. citizens.
Two days after Brennan’s special briefing, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey demanding he open an investigation targeting “individuals tied to Trump” to determine if they coordinated with the Russian government “to influence our election.”
“The Trump campaign has employed a number of individuals with significant and disturbing ties to Russia and the Kremlin,” the then-top Democrat in the Senate added in his two-page letter.
Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is reportedly also of interest to Nunes for similar remarks he made just after the election expressing an uneasiness with leaks while providing a summary of the dossier to outgoing-President Obama. Nunes apparently wants to know if Clapper knew who funded it when he passed it along to Obama and erroneously called it a document created by a “private security company.”
Both Clapper and Brennan, interestingly enough, have signed media deals — the former with CNN, the latter with NBC/MSNBC — and will likely be taking their defense of themselves and the Democratic party to the cable airwaves.