A former national security official for the Trump White House said Wednesday that former CIA Director John Brennan deliberately suppressed intelligence evidence that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin would benefit if “the more predictable and malleable” Hillary Clinton was elected president in 2016.
In an oped at Fox News, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz strongly disputes the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings in its latest report on the Russia matter. The bipartisan report, released on Tuesday, found that the intelligence community officials who prepared the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference in 2016 “were under no political pressure” to reach “specific conclusions.”
John Brennan himself told Politico Wednesday that the Senate report vindicated the intelligence community’s (IC) assessment.
“I’m just very glad that the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday came out with a report that totally validated the intelligence community’s assessment about Russian interference in the election in 2016 to help Donald Trump,” Brennan said. “Donald Trump continues to call all these things hoaxes. They’re not. The only hoax is his representation of the facts. That’s the hoax. It’s because, I think, he has this quite understandable insecurity about what he’s done — well, this is what others have done.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, praised the Obama era intel officials for applying “strong tradecraft” in the assessment.
In contrast, the House intel committee, while it was under the leadership of Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-Calif.), uncovered significant malfeasance in how the intelligence community conducted its Russia collusion investigation and concluded that Brennan cooked intelligence for political purposes.
“The House committee found the intelligence community assessment violated protocols for drafting such assessments,” Fleitz notes, but the Senate committee ignored these “extraordinary violations of intelligence community rules.”
The intel assessment also supported the widely discredited Steele Dossier, which, as Fleitz points out, contained Russian disinformation.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report falsely claims that “all analytical lines are supported with all-source intelligence” and that analysts who wrote the intelligence community assessment consistently said they “were under no politically motivated pressure to reach specific conclusions.”
House Intelligence Committee staff members found the opposite. They told me there was conflicting intelligence evidence on Russian motivations for meddling in the 2016 election.
More gravely, they said that CIA Director Brennan suppressed facts or analysis that showed why it was not in Russia’s interests to support Trump and why Putin stood to benefit from Hillary Clinton’s election. They also told me that Brennan suppressed that intelligence over the objections of CIA analysts.
House Intelligence Committee staff told me that after an exhaustive investigation reviewing intelligence and interviewing intelligence officers, they found that Brennan suppressed high-quality intelligence suggesting that Putin actually wanted the more predictable and malleable Clinton to win the 2016 election.
House Intelligence Committee staff told Fleitz that the Brennan team “included low-quality intelligence that failed to meet intelligence community standards” to support their political claim that Russian officials preferred Trump over Clinton and some CIA analysts objected to the “flawed, substandard information in the assessment.”
Fleitz argued that Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee would never allow information about an Obama official suppressing intelligence in the intelligence community assessment to see the light of day, and because Sen. Burr is such a profoundly weak Intel chairman, he would go along with them.
As the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway recently quipped, the Senate committee “in practice has largely been run by Sen. Mark Warner, (D-Va.)” while Burr avoids questions about why “he dumped stocks after receiving private briefings about coronavirus threats.”
The committee’s major and perhaps only contribution to the Russia collusion storyline was to employ a high-level staffer tasked with handling classified information who was convicted of lying to the FBI about leaks of classified information to reporters he was having affairs with. Both Burr and Warner begged a judge to be lenient with their former employee. The judge sentenced him to two months in prison.
Burr also “refused to cooperate with President Trump’s attempts to name a new director of national intelligence last summer because of Warner’s objections,” according to Fleitz.
The former CIA analyst offered an explanation as to why the House and Senate reports are at such drastic odds with each other. According to Fleitz, intelligence officers likely told different stories to House and Senate intelligence committee investigators because of the strong anti-Trump bias within the intelligence agencies.
“The intelligence officers probably felt free to level with Republican staff members about how the intelligence community assessment was weaponized,” he explained. “But they would not level with the bipartisan Senate investigation because they worried that their honest assessments that countered the narrative would get back to their supervisors and damage their careers.”
Despite the Senate Intel Committee’s report backing the Obama administration’s IC assessment, the case is not closed. Federal prosecutor John Durham is also looking into the assessment as part of his criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the surveillance of President Trump’s campaign, transition, and early administration.
“One anticipates that a tough lawman like Durham, with confidence from both sides of the political aisle, will finally answer whether the 2017 intelligence community assessment was rigged to hurt Trump politically,” said Fleitz.