Prosecutor Zeroes in on John Brennan’s Role in 2016 Trump/Russia Probe

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According to a report from The New York Times, U.S. Attorney John Durham, currently mounting an expansive investigation into the 2016 Trump/Russia probe, is zeroing in on the CIA and its former director, John Brennan. In an effort to establish the differences between various intelligence agencies in their assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Durham is reportedly requesting Brennan’s “emails, call logs, and other documents from the CIA.”

In addition to scrutinizing what Brennan was saying behind closed doors, Durham is looking to see if the former director’s private comments conflict with what he told Congress in May 2017. Specifically, Durham wants to know how Brennan privately viewed the Steele dossier, whether or not he consulted with former FBI Director James Comey about its validity, and how the dossier was viewed internally by the CIA as a whole.

Brennan has long denied that the dossier was used in any way by the CIA in determining that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 election for the purposes of helping Donald Trump. Supporters of Brennan take the same view, insisting that the CIA’s analysis of the interference was based on the agency’s sources inside the Kremlin and not the word of a former British spy being paid by the Clinton campaign.

Durham’s probe into what importance our intelligence agencies placed on that dossier comes just after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report into the FBI’s use (and abuse) of the FISA Court system. In that report, Horowitz concluded that the dossier was “central and essential” to the FBI’s application for a warrant into Trump advisor Carter Page. Horowitz also found that the FBI did not tell the court that the dossier was bought and paid for by Trump’s chief political rival, nor that it had never been independently verified by the FBI.

Sources inside the CIA told The New York Times that they always believed the dossier to be no more important than an “internet rumor,” and they fought to keep any mention of Steele’s work out of their official assessment of Russian interference. Ultimately, a compromise was struck with the FBI, where officials wanted to include the dossier and its allegations inside the main report: It was relegated to the appendix.

The fact remains, though, that someone in some agency took the dossier seriously; otherwise it would not have been used to secure a foreign surveillance warrant against an American citizen. And without probing more deeply into the CIA’s views and intelligence at the time, questions remain about how the agency could have concluded – to a high degree of confidence – that Putin wanted Trump to win the election. Was that simply a convenient conclusion in light of the Obama administration’s interests at the time?

Brennan, Comey, Clapper, and others continue to insist that the dossier was, at best, only tangential to their probe of the Trump campaign. But every internal investigation seems to find the opposite to be true. Let’s see if John Durham can get to the ultimate truth.