Director of National Intelligence nominee James Clapper testifies during the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on his nomination on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
If one were to look for a cause for the anger and bitterness in American politics right now…other than sore-loserness on the part of Democrats and Never Trump people that rivals anything we saw in the aftermath of the 2000 election of George W. Bush…it would have to be the perpetual investigation of the Trump administration for alleged “collusion” with Russia. And that investigation is driven not by some bullsh** alcohol-fueled conversation between a minor campaign hanger-on, George Papadopoulos, and an Australian diplomat, but by a piece of opposition research paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
I’ve previously posted on how this document got into play. Basically, it had been kicking around Washington for a few months. Several news organizations and BuzzFeed had copies but all were afraid to do anything with it because there was zero verification of the allegations. At some point in December 2016, DNI director James Clapper suggested that James Comey brief president-elect Trump on the dossier. That briefing took place on January 6, 2017, at Trump Tower.
The meeting was notable for three things. First, Trump was only briefed on the “salacious” parts of the dossier. If you’ve read the dossier you know that those parts are only a small fraction of what Steele reported to his paymasters. Second, Reince Priebus specifically asked Comey if there was anything else the administration should be aware of (like, maybe, allegations that they were pawns of Russia) and Comey said no. Third, James Comey told Trump that the media had the document and were looking for a news hook to justify publishing it. Oh, and fourth, Comey did not tell Trump that the dossier was paid oppo from the Hillary campaign. It is hard to paint this in any other way other than Comey trying to wind Trump up and get him looking in one direction while the real attack came from a different direction.
Shortly after Comey’s briefing, CNN reported on the existence of the dossier. What did they use as a news hook?
President-elect Donald Trump was informed about the existence of the unverified allegations against him about Russian ties after last Friday’s Intel briefing at Trump Tower on alleged Russian hacking, U.S. officials told NBC News.
A senior U.S. official said that it was FBI Director James Comey himself who pulled Trump aside after the briefing and spoke with him one-on-one about the so-called “dossier,” 35 pages of memos prepared by a former British spy for an anti-Trump client prior to last year’s election.
CNN’s story was followed within hours by BuzzFeed publishing the entire dossier.
The next day, President Trump went predictably batsh** crazy on Twitter:
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
And James Clapper responded, this is via Politico: Spy chief trashes leaks, assures Trump of loyalty.
The outgoing U.S. director of national intelligence has extended an olive branch of sorts to Donald Trump — denouncing media leaks, casting skepticism on a report that Russia has damaging material on the president-elect, and assuring Trump that America’s spies stand ready to serve him.
“I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security,” Clapper said of the information that has come out since last week’s intelligence briefing.
Clapper, however, said he did not believe the leaks to the press came from the intelligence community. At the same time, he indicated that the intelligence community decided to share the material with Trump because its mere existence was important for the incoming president to know about.
As far as the “private security company document,” Clapper said, “I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.”
Now another piece has been added to the puzzle.
James Comey and James Clapper insist they had nothing to do with the media reporting of the Russian dossier.
It sure looks like that isn't true. Read this remarkable section from the Intel report. Clapper discussed the dossier with journalists and lied to the committee about it. pic.twitter.com/sEAOkahJUT
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) April 27, 2018
Clapper is interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee and says he did not discuss–this is important, because Rooney does not say “leak”–the dossier:
MR. ROONEY: Did you discuss the dossier or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists?
MR. CLAPPER: No.
Eventually, Clapper owns up to discussing the dossier with Jake Tapper. And, mysteriously, Clapper ends up on CNN’s payroll as a contributor.
One has to conclude that Clapper’s verification to Tapper that the dossier was, in fact, a part of the intelligence community’s assessment that sparked the counterintelligence investigation that, in turn, led to Mueller’s investigation coupled with Comey’s briefing to Trump provided the media with the “news hook” Comey said they needed to publish the dossier. Funny how that happened.
For full background, read these:
Why Did James Comey Mislead President Trump About The Source Of The Russian Dossier?
James Comey Finally Addresses The Credibility Of The Trump Dossier