Former CIA Director John Brennan briefed former President Obama on Hillary Clinton plan to tie the Trump campaign to Russia as a means of distracting the public from her private email server scandal before the 2016 election, according to newly declassified documents.Director of National
- The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, released a number of declassified intelligence documents on Tuesday that national security veterans warned could be part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
- The documents included handwritten notes from former CIA director John Brennan in 2016, shortly after he briefed then-President Barack Obama on US intelligence reporting on what Russian security services were saying.
- Specifically, according to Brennan's notes, Russian intelligence operatives were claiming Hillary Clinton concocted a plan "to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference" by Russia during the 2016 election.
- The president and his allies immediately latched onto the declassified notes as evidence of an Obama-era plot to undermine Trump's campaign.
- But former US officials said Ratcliffe compromised national security and US sources and methods by selectively declassifying the documents to boost Trump's narratives about the Russia probe.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified Brennan’s handwritten notes along with a CIA memo showing that officials referred the alleged scheme to the FBI for potential investigation.
“Today, at the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relevant to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.
Brennan’s notes, which were taken after he briefed Obama on the intelligence, cite “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service,” which was “alleged approved by Hillary Clinton.”
The heavily-redacted CIA memo references “an exchange discussing U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”
In 2016, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee contracted Fusion GPS and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to compile the controversial Russian dossier, which purported to draw a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia and contained salacious allegations about Trump, then the Republican nominee.
The dossier was later used in applications to surveil Trump associate Carter Page. The Justice Department’s inspector general has since concluded that the FBI did not inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the dossier was unreliable.
“The following information is provided for the exclusive use of your bureau for background investigative action or lead purposes as appropriate,” states the CIA memo, which was sent to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, then the deputy assistant director of counterintelligence.
Last week, Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not remember whether he received an investigative referral on Clinton in September 2016.
“That doesn’t ring any bells with me,” Comey said.
“That’s a pretty stunning thing that it doesn’t ring a bell,” Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham responded. “You get this inquiry from the intelligence community to look at the Clinton campaign trying to create a distraction, accusing Trump of being a Russian agent or a Russian stooge.”
The newly declassified documents have been forwarded to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.