Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

The role of the Trump dossier in kicking off the current unicorn hunt (I say that instead of witch hunt because unicorn hunters never find unicorns) by Robert Mueller. Once the deficiencies in the document became apparent, then all manner of fatuous stories appeared to say the Trump dossier was irrelevant. The reason it is important to claim the Trump dossier is irrelevant is because the more we know about it, the less credible it becomes. One of the leading purveyors of this nonsense has been former CIA director John Brennan. Since late in the 2016 campaign, and particularly since Trump’s election, Brennan has played a leading role in trying to damage the Trump presidency.

If you recall, it was Brennan’s CIA that led the charge claiming that the Russians had shown a preference for Donald Trump. (As an aside, I don’t think anyone doubts that to the extent the Russians played a roll in 2016 it was as not-Hillary. They did that, in my view, because they believed she was a going to win and wanted her to be damaged goods when she was inaugurated.) The rest of the intelligence community disagreed.

The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.

While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named.

The position of the ODNI, which oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks.

Trump’s rejection of the CIA’s judgment marks the latest in a string of disputes over Russia’s international conduct that have erupted between the president-elect and the intelligence community he will soon command.

An ODNI spokesman declined to comment on the issue.

“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”

Since that time Brennan has gone to lengths to claim the Trump dossier was, if not irrelevant, a marginal cause of the concern about Russian influence in the Trump campaign.

In his May 23, 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Brennan said, amid other things:

The Steele dossier “was not in any way used as a basis” for the intelligence community’s January report on election interference.

He has since made this claim several times:

The only problem is that it appears that he’s lying. How do we know that? Well, his lips were moving at the time.

Former CIA Director John Brennan’s insistence that the salacious and unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election is being contradicted by two top former officials.

Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the ICA. And James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the assessment was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations.

These accounts are at odds with Brennan’s May 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Steele dossier  was “not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment” that Russia interfered in the election to help elect Donald Trump. Brennan has repeated this claim numerous times, including in February on “Meet the Press.”

And this:

A source close to the House investigation said Brennan himself selected the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, and that they included former FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok.

“Strzok was the intermediary between Brennan and [former FBI Director James] Comey, and he was one of the authors of the ICA,” according to the source.

Strzok is also the guy who seems to have been involved in developing the “insurance policy” to be used in case Trump was elected.

Brennan has sworn the dossier was not “in any way” used as a basis for the ICA. He explains he heard snippets of the dossier from the press in the summer of 2016, but insists he did not see it or read it for himself until late 2016. “Brennan’s claims are impossible to believe,” Fleitz asserted.

“Brennan was pushing the Trump collusion line in mid-2016 and claimed to start the FBI collusion investigation in August 2016,” he said. “It’s impossible to believe Brennan was pushing for this investigation without having read the dossier.”

He also pointed out that the key findings of the ICA match the central allegations in the dossier. The House Intelligence Committee concluded that Brennan, who previously worked in the White House as Obama’s deputy national security adviser, created a “fusion cell” on Russian election interference made up of analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, who produced a series of related papers for the White House during the 2016 campaign.

And this is critical:

“Brennan put some of the dossier material into the PDB [presidential daily briefing] for Obama and described it as coming from a ‘credible source,’ which is how they viewed Steele,” said the source familiar with the House investigation. “But they never corroborated his sources.”

You don’t slide stuff that is irrelevant into the PDB. That just doesn’t happen. And you certainly don’t misrepresent the quality of the information. However, this is pretty much in line with how Comey’s FBI was tarting up the dossier to use it as cause for FISA warrant on Carter Page.

And yet Mueller has not interviewed Brennan or Clapper or Mike Rogers.