Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during an event at the University of Chicago’s Ida Noyes Hall in Chicago on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

I’ll never be a major fan of Rand Paul but sometimes he performs a great public service in between the the long periods he spend as an annoying twit. This is one of those times.

Citing a “high-level source,” Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul charged in a bombshell Twitter post late Wednesday that anti-Trump ex-CIA Director John Brennan “insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier” be included in a classified intelligence community report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections — a decision that ultimately lent credibility to the dossier and may have played a key role in fomenting unfounded fears of Russia collusion for two years.

Paul called on Brennan to testify under oath immediately, as Republicans continue to aggressively seek out the origins of the collusion narrative. Fox News had not independently verified Paul’s source, and Brennan has not replied to Fox News’ requests for comment.

Fox News is told Paul’s tweet specifically accused Brennan of pushing to incorporate the dossier into the January 2017 official intelligence community assessment (ICA) from the FBI, CIA, and NSA that Russia worked to interfere in the 2016 election.

What is interesting is that the dossier is NOT referenced in the unclassified intelligence summary released in January 2017, but James Comey briefed President Trump on the more salacious parts at about the same time. Brennan has claimed in public forums that the dossier was not a big deal, but, when one examines the record one sees that Brennan was pushing the dossier at various times. He seems to have used disgraced former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok as his cut-out to sell the dossier within the FBI. We know, for instance, that the dossier figured prominently in the FISA warrants obtained on the hapless Carter Page. It not being mentioned is not a big deal as it wasn’t widely known until BuzzFeed published it.

What makes Paul’s story more credible is a recent revelation by Fox’s superstar national security reporter Catherine Herridge.

When one goes back to the genesis of the Russia hoax investigation one is struck by a salient point. This is from The Hill on December 11, 2016.

A secret CIA assessment uncovered by the Washington Post Friday concluded that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump win the White House.

The CIA was “direct and bald and unqualified” about Russia’s intentions to help Trump, officials who attended a House briefing told the Post.

However, an FBI official’s presentation to the House Intelligence Committee was “fuzzy” and “ambiguous,” the Post added.
The CIA believes Russians hacked both Democratic and Republican organizations, though only documents from Democrats were leaked and published.

According to multiple reports, the FBI still hasn’t confirmed whether the RNC or other Republican groups were hacked.

The Washington Post reports the FBI is not certain that Russia’s interference in the election was a purposeful effort to alter the results.

During a meeting of the House Intelligence Committee, the CIA said it was sure of Russia’s intentions in hacking Democratic party emails, but the FBI was less certain, The Post reported.

This is Reuters on December 11:

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.

However, by December 16, the FBI and DNI had joined the CIA assessment. We can’t know why that was the case…but if we look at the antics of James Clapper and James Comey we have fertile ground for speculation. What could have caused everyone, literally everyone, to change from disagreeing with the assessment of John Brennan’s CIA to agreeing with in in the span of five days?

This is where Herridge’s reporting comes in:

In a Dec. 12, 2016, text reviewed by Fox News, Page wrote to McCabe: “Btw, [Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper told Pete that he was meeting with [CIA Director John] Brennan and Cohen for dinner tonight. Just FYSA [for your situational awareness].”

Within a minute, McCabe replied, “OK.”

Cohen is likely then-Deputy CIA Director David Cohen. Pete is a likely reference to Peter Strzok, who played a lead role in the original Russia investigation at the FBI (and with whom Page was having an affair).

But two government sources told Fox News it was “irregular” for Clapper to be in direct contact with Strzok, who was at a much more junior level. It is not clear from the text if Strzok also attended the dinner. A lawyer for Strzok declined to comment, but did not dispute the text referred to Strzok.

So, basically the night after the CIA finds itself the odd-man out on the collusion narrative, Brennan and Clapper have dinner. Clapper tells Strzok, who is several layers beneath him in a different agency about the event. Within a couple of days the FBI and DNI are both on board with the CIA’s assessment which seems to have relied upon the dossier.

Paul’s call for an investigation of what the Obama administration knew about this is very much on target and President Trump should make sure it happens.

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