On April 21, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on its review of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) drafted for President Barack Obama on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Corporate media immediately touted the Republican-controlled committee’s finding that “the ICA presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” including by hacking Democratic National Committee emails, as vindication of the intelligence communities’ handling of all things Russia. But a close reading of the report—or at least those portions of the report that could be read—instead cements the reality that the FBI intentionally snowed the FISA court to spy on Donald Trump.
After Trump’s surprise election, then-President Obama directed “CIA Director John Brennan to conduct a review of all intelligence relating to Russian involvement in the 2016 election and produce a single comprehensive assessment.” With Brennan at the helm, the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and FBI complied a report for Obama, which the FBI insisted include the now-discredited Christopher Steele dossier.
Other intelligence leaders objected, and as the committee report explained, the disagreement “was ultimately resolved by including the information as Annex A, a two-page summary attached only to the most classified version of the ICA.” The report explained the NSA was not involved in the discussion or the decision to include the Steele dossier in the annex, but then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that Steele’s “intel” be included, although he “was agnostic as to whether it was footnoted in the document itself, put as an annex.”
Significantly, in tracing this history of the decision to include the Steele dossier in the intel report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence noted that “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” Steele’s reporting.
But the FBI did stand behind Steele reporting to federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges four times: once months earlier, and then mere weeks after the FBI opted to only summarize the dossier in the annex to the ICA report because the agents didn’t “want to stand behind” the reporting. As Inspect General Michael Horowitz found, and as the recent additional declassifications of the FISA applications prove, the Steele dossier was indispensable to the FISA surveillance applications. Yet “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” it.
Nonetheless, and without a hint of self-reflection, Comey has pointed to yesterday’s Senate report as exoneration. Those who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election “were professionals,” Comey tweeted.
That “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” the Steele dossier raises the question of why then did the FBI insist on including the details in the report, albeit in the annex? Here, it is helpful to remember that the intelligence community briefed then-president Obama on the report on January 5, 2017 and President-elect Trump on the next day—the same day an unclassified version of the ICA was publicly released.
Less than a week later, on January 12, 2016, “Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein of CNN reported . . . that President-elect Trump was briefed on classified information indicating that the Russians have compromising personal or financial information that the Russians could use against President-elect Trump.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper later admitted “that he confirmed the existence of the dossier to the media.” (CNN later hired Clapper as a national security advisor.)
So maybe the FBI insisted the Steele dossier be included to provide a media hook to report on the tabloid tales Steele weaved together for the Clinton campaign?
Tuesday’s report on the ICA of Russia interference in the 2016 election proves troubling for another reason: There were so many redactions, it is impossible to know what the committee omitted. As we now know from all the unnecessary and damning redactions since declassified in both the IG report and the FISA applications, the hidden details often tell a much different story.
Of particular interest is whether buried beneath the redactions was a discussion of Russia’s potential pushing of disinformation to Steele as a means of interfering with the 2016 election. We know from the declassified footnotes that the FBI received several different tips that Russia was feeding disinformation to Steele.
Many seem to be operating under the misguided principle of protecting our sacred institutions to give false implications to these “investigations”. Why does every report have a deep-state supportive summation yet contain information that directly contradicts the summation?
It’s Margot Cleveland of The Federalist who’s guilty of attempted manipulation. The report does, in fact, endorse both the methodology and conclusions of our own intelligence community’s report on Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election.
What is it about “the ICA presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election” that she doesn’t understand? This is not the conclusion of some partisan media outlet. It’s the plainly-stated conclusion of the republican led, bipartisan Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate.
The truth is that she understands what they’re saying perfectly well. She just doesn’t like it. It represents a direct, fully informed challenge to her world view. They’re telling her in no uncertain terms that they’ve carefully looked at all the evidence, and it demonstrates that what she wants people to believe is FALSE. Her predictable response is to attack the report and once again pitch her line of bullshit.
Who exactly is it that has supposedly “manipulated” the report?
As for Nunes, he has no credibility whatsoever. We know damn well who his efforts at manipulation and subterfuge have been on behalf of. He was actually caught doing it.
@Greg: The majority of the Intelligence Community Assessment judgments on Russia’s election activities employed proper analytic tradecraft,” but found the “judgments on Putin’s strategic intentions did not.” The Democrats on the panel released their own assessment that said they found “no evidence” to cast doubt on the assessment.
Criminal referrals keep rolling into the DOJ as things get declassified.
Previously hidden spy recordings, foot notes, text messages it isnt looking good for your not so honorable public servants brother.
@Greg: So, once again, what WAS this “help” the Russians provided Trump? Like Schiff’s “mountain of evidence”, none of this “help” ever seems to appear. This seems to be a pattern.
Nah, he gets caught repeatedly telling the truth while Democrats promote their lies.
According to people like Devin Nunes and anonymous rumors continuously circulated by right-wing “news” outlets. But if you try to get any specific information, there’s none to be found.
William Barr will play along, but Barr is a thinly disguised political tool of the Trump administration. Witness Barr’s current comments about going after state governors if their stay-at-home directives “go too far”. He’s being used by Trump to pressure governors to reopen state economies earlier than health experts recommend.
Trump is trying to play both sides in a situation where economic interests and public health concerns presently remain at odds with each other. The continuous stream of mixed messages resulting from that have created a great deal of confusion. It’s not even clear who has ultimate decision-making authority in a time of national emergency. I suspect this might be intentional. Some find confusion and uncertainty to be part of a more easily exploited political environment.
@Deplorable Me, #3:
What Nunes got caught doing was secretly relaying inside information about an important House committee investigation of White House doings back to the White House. He should have been required to recuse himself from further participation at that point, but he managed to wiggle out of doing so.
The man is a political weasel. He does in the House what Darrell Issa was doing in the Senate. They’re both part of what has gone seriously wrong with the GOP, which was put on steroids with the advent of Donald Trump.
(Mitch McConnell is today advocating that states be allowed to declare bankruptcy, defaulting on their debts. Unbelievable, but true. Doesn’t this guy represent a party that claims to want to preserve a balance of power between states and the federal government? See how that works out if no one in their right mind will extend credit to a state government.)
@Greg: The dossier was included in the report the dubunked 7 ways to Sunday peepee dossier. Comey insisted it was used.
A criminal referral is simply that, I could refer you to have a psyche review, then some doctor might question you and look at your behavior and see if it warrants you get a check up from the neck up. I must give reasons such as this crazy brother still believes his media reports after being lied to for 4 years even after a 35 million dollar investigation done by haters of the person investigated.
John Brennan led the investigation he has lied to congress multiple times.
What Nunes got caught doing was secretly relaying inside information about an important House committee investigation of White House doings back to the White House<—–that is a flat out lie.
As I understand it, Nunes personally briefed Donald Trump in the White House during a secret meeting on March 22, 2017, disclosing information that he hadn’t even shared with other members of the House investigative committee he chaired. I believe that has since been documented.
Devin Nunes: A Running Timeline of His Surveillance Claims and White House Ties
@Greg: Secretly relaying inside information about an important House committee investigation
Not so secret as a presser was held before the President was briefed
Schiff says the names were masked, but I thought he knew nothing and wasnt advised.
The documents Nunes saw on the white house server proved the FBI were spying on Trump, in an ongoing operation. They still are as proven by the impeachment circus.
I know you would feel the same if it was Shitt telling Barry he was being spied on by Republican IC ops.
Letting the President of the United States know what is going on?!? OUTRAGEOUS! Meanwhile, the NSA, under Obama, was allowing unsecured contractors to have access to every bit of data collected by the NSA. But, that was OK… right? As long as it’s used against Republicans, it’s OK… right? In actuality, what Nunes did was a patriotic act, informing a President that was told he was not the subject of any investigation of the ongoing coup being organized against him.
Of course, Schiff was leaking classified information to the media… not exactly holding the same security clearance as the POTUS. But, again… that’s OK. Right? If it f**ks Republicans, anything is A-OK. In fact, Schiff was later leaking his own secret hearings testimony to the media to damage the POTUS. I don’t think your “moral high ground” is all that moral or very high (you may be, though).
@kitt: @Deplorable Me:
Remember, Comrade Greggie is a true believer. He probably has a well-worn copy of Rules for Radicals with all its bookmarks. Of course, Comrade Greggie is just an old dredge from the radical ’60’s. Hell, half the stuff he posts can be found in the Port Huron Statement. Pure radical crap.
It must chap Comrade Greggie’s rear end that there are now many other outlets that print the truth, not just the (socialist) Democrat talking points from “news” outlets that take their daily marching orders from Media Matters.
I wonder why the Senate report didn’t include this?
To the surprise of NO ONE.
@Deplorable Me, #12:
Because The Daily Caller is a horse manure cart, and the story in question is totally bogus?
The House Intel Committee report the article cites as evidence “was authored by committee Republicans and approved for release on a party-line vote”. That’s their own description of it, which can be found by following a link in their article which takes you to another of their own articles.
The report in question is an utterly partisan document, written at the direction of Devin Nunes. It’s an entirely different product than the bipartisan report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
@Greg: Daily Caller… Quotes. Links. Citations. Unlike a NYT piece, it’s not just some ideologue promoting warped opinion as fact. How much impact did the Russian’s $100,000 make? How did this help Trump? Did it help him more than Hillary’s Russian dirt help her?
This is a joke. By any measure, the Russians wanted Hillary, not Trump. Hillary could be blackmailed and/or bribed. Trump could not. As it turns out, Trump is their worst enemy.