News & Politics

Brennan's Claim That Intel Assessment Didn't Rely on Steele Dossier Contradicted by Former Colleagues

Former CIA Director John Brennan (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Two top former Obama administration officials have contradicted former CIA Director John Brennan’s sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Paul Sperry of Real Clear Investigations reported on Tuesday.

Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have said otherwise — meaning Brennan may have perjured himself when he testified about anti-Trump Steele dossier.

Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the DNC and Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the assessment, and Clapper conceded in a recent CNN interview that the ICA was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.”

In May of 2017, Brennan told the House Intel 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. Sperry points out that “Brennan has repeated this claim numerous times, including in February on Meet the Press.”

In a March 5, 2018, letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Adm. Rogers informed the committee that a two-page summary of the dossier — described as “the Christopher Steele information” — was “added” as an “appendix to the ICA draft,” and that consideration of that appendix was “part of the overall ICA review/approval process.”

His skepticism of the dossier may explain why the NSA parted company with other intelligence agencies and cast doubt on one of its crucial conclusions: that Vladimir Putin personally ordered a cyberattack on Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Donald Trump win the White House.

Rogers has testified that while he was sure the Russians wanted to hurt Clinton, he wasn’t as confident as CIA and FBI officials that their actions were designed to help Trump, explaining that such as assessment “didn’t have the same level of sourcing and the same level of multiple sources.”

The 16 opposition research-style memos that make up the anti-Trump dossier were underwritten by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s own campaign, and are based mostly on uncorroborated third-hand sources. Yet, according to Sperry, the ICA and the Steele dossier share much of the same language and come to the same conclusions at the heart of the “Russia collusion” narrative that has been plaguing the Trump presidency.

Meanwhile, contrary to popular belief, 17 intelligence agencies did not contribute to the assessment. Rather, input from just three agencies — the CIA, NSA, and FBI — was used, RealClearInvestigations reports.

Clapper broke with tradition and decided not to put the assessment out to all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies for review. Instead, he limited input to a couple dozen chosen analysts from just three agencies — the CIA, NSA and FBI. Agencies with relevant expertise on Russia, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department’s intelligence bureau, were excluded from the process.

While faulting Clapper for not following intelligence community tradecraft standards that Clapper himself ordered in 2015, the House Intelligence Committee’s 250-page report also found that the ICA did not properly describe the “quality and credibility of underlying sources” and was not “independent of political considerations.”

In another departure from the norm, the report also lacks dissenting views, according to a former CIA analyst who used to work on national intelligence estimates at Langley. “Traditionally, controversial intelligence community assessments like this include dissenting views and the views of an outside review group,” said Fred Fleitz, who was a CIA analyst for 19 years. “It also should have been thoroughly vetted with all relevant IC agencies,” he added. “Why were DHS and DIA excluded?”

Fleitz suggests that the Obama administration limited the number of players involved in the analysis to skew the results. He believes the process was “manipulated” to reach a “predetermined political conclusion” that the incoming Republican president was compromised by the Russians.

The CIA veteran told Sperry that he has “never viewed the ICA as credible.”

But it gets worse — according to a source close to the House investigation, Brennan hand-picked the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, one of whom was former FBI counterespionage agent Peter Strzok.

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

Last summer Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and demoted after his politically charged anti-Trump text messages from 2016 were discovered by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The text messages between Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, have been released in batches since late last year.  Strzok remains employed and under IG investigation, Sperry notes, while Page recently resigned from the bureau.

Fleitz told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum back in February that Brennan is “the missing link” in the Russia collusion anti-Trump frame-up.

“He [Brennan] said he did not see the Steele dossier until late 2016, but learned snippets about it in mid-2016 while he was promoting this story,” the CIA veteran explained. “He also said that the dossier did not affect CIA analysis in 2016 or major intelligence community analysis in early 2017, but the dossier was the principal piece of information used for the FISA warrant application to spy on Carter Page in October of 2016,” Fleitz added. “This means that the CIA, according to Brennan, either didn’t know about or didn’t have the dossier, which is impossible to believe, or the CIA thought the dossier wasn’t reliable.”

Fleitz told MacCallum that Brennan’s role in the entire affair needed to be looked into.

“Given his hostility towards Mr. Trump, inconsistencies and contradictions and misstatements, I think there’s a lot that has to be looked into here,” he said.

“This intelligence community assessment that came out in early January of 2017 was very, very strange,” said Fleitz.

Brennan signed on as a contributor to left-leaning MSNBC/NBC in February. James Clapper became part of the CNN family in August 2017.