News & Politics

Report: Nunes to Target Former CIA Director John Brennan Next in RussiaGate Probe

Former CIA Director John Brennan (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has reportedly set his sights on former CIA Director John Brennan for the next phase of his inquiry into RussiaGate-related malfeasance on the part of Obama administration officials.

Phase one of his probe dealt with the FBI’s use of the “salacious and unverified” Steele dossier to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant to spy on a Trump adviser during the 2016 election. Amid howls of protest from Democrats, on February 2 Nunes released his committee’s declassified memo exposing the FBI and DOJ’s surveillance abuse.

In phase two, which is ongoing, House investigators are looking into the role Obama State Department personnel played in laundering Steele’s opposition research so it could be used by the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign:

One target of Nunes is Jonathan Winer, the Obama State Department’s special envoy to Libya, who is suspected of being an intermediary between Steele and Clinton political operative Cody Shearer, who drafted his own anti-Trump dossier.  Steele used the Shearer dossier to “corroborate” his own findings, producing a two-page handwritten summary which he submitted to the FBI.

Some of this area of investigation has already been covered in a letter and a memo by Senators Grassley and Graham, who are calling for a criminal investigation of Steele’s communications with the FBI, according to a February 6 article in The Atlantic magazine.  The article refers to the senators alleging that “Clinton associates” in the State Department “were feeding Mr. Steele’s accusations” against the Trump campaign, which challenges the credibility of the claim that Steele was a “neutral source” seeking evidence of “Russian meddling/Trump collusion.”

According to the New York Post’s Paul Sperry, writing at RealClearInvestigations, Nunes plans to release a report detailing the Obama State Department’s role in creating and disseminating the dossier soon:

Among other things, the report will identify Obama-appointed diplomats who worked with partisan operatives close to Hillary Clinton to help ex-British spy Christopher Steele compile the dossier, sources say.

HPSCI sources tell Sperry that the next phase will deal with the role John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting Steele’s anti-Trump dossier — “including whether Brennan perjured himself in public testimony about it.” A senior investigator stated: “In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus.”

Facts have emerged since Brennan’s testimony before the intelligence panel in May of 2017 that warrant further scrutiny of some of his answers. For instance, Brennan denied that the Steele dossier played a role in the intelligence community’s conclusion last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 election “to help Trump’s chances of victory.”

Brennan also testified in May of 2017 that he had no idea who commissioned the “dirty dossier,” even though, as Sperry notes, “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.”

Also under scrutiny is the active role Brennan played in disseminating the “dodgy dossier’s” highly questionable findings to the public during the election year.

On August 25, 2016, Brennan reportedly told then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a private briefing that “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 the briefing, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey citing information that appears to have come from the dossier. He demanded that the FBI open an investigation targeting “individuals tied to Trump” to determine if they coordinated with the Russian government “to influence our election.”

Less than two months later, Comey signed the application for the surveillance warrant on Trump adviser Carter Page’s emails, text messages, phone conversations, and residence.

Growing impatient with the FBI’s progress, in late October 2016 Reid accused Comey of “sitting on evidence” in an open letter to the FBI director. Reid wrote that after talking to “other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.”

According to congressional investigators, the “explosive information” Reid referred to was actually the unverified and salacious claims in the Clinton-funded dossier.

The sources also say that the CIA director “weaponized” the dossier in early January 2017 by attaching it to an official daily intelligence briefing for Obama.

That classified briefing was then conveniently leaked to the Washington media, allowing them to justify the publication of claims they had up to that point been unwilling to run. CNN first broke the news that the CIA had included the dossier — described as “classified documents” — in its briefing report to the president. Satisfied with the cloak of credibility the CIA had given the Democratic opposition research, the Washington Post and New York Times soon followed suit.

According to Sperry’s source, Nunes will also focus on Obama’s first CIA director, Leon Panetta, his Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, his National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials:

Sources say Brennan is aware that the House Intelligence Committee is targeting him in its wide-ranging investigation of the dossier and investigative and intelligence abuses related to it, and that Nunes plans to call him and other former Obama administration officials before the panel to question them based on newly obtained documents and information.

Last week, perhaps not coincidentally, Brennan signed a contract with NBC News and MSNBC to be their “senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

Brennan attacked Nunes during an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday for releasing the FISA abuse memo. claiming that Nunes had “abused the office of the chairmanship.”

“It really underscores just how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” Brennan charged.

Which is a case of the pot calling the kettle black if ever there was one. A House investigator told Sperry: “John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier. He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump.”

According to CIA veterans, Brennan was “the most politicized director in the agency’s history and was responsible for much of the anti-Trump bias from the intelligence community during the campaign and transition period.”

“My sources tell me John Brennan is in a world of trouble right now,” former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino said on Fox and Friends Monday morning. “It is not plausibly deniable that John Brennan didn’t know who commissioned that dossier,” Bongino added. “He is in a world of trouble because he raised his right hand and said the exact opposite.”