New Report Presents More Evidence Of Anti-Trump Bias In Key Russia 'Collusion' Assessment

Former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill, May 23, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A new report by Real Clear Investigations presents more evidence of political bias playing a major role in the way the intelligence community conducted its assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged "collusion" with the Trump campaign.

Among the details that have emerged is that, contrary to the sworn testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan, the Democrat-funded, "salacious and unverified" Steele dossier did in fact influence the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered with the intent to hurt Clinton and help Trump. Other new revelations include that an agent with hyper-partisan bias against Trump was handpicked by Brennan to help write the intelligence community's assessment, and Obama's director of national intelligence "manipulated" the process to partisan effect.

Real Clear Investigations reports that Brennan's claim in his May 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the dossier was "not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community's assessment" (ICA) — a claim he has repeated several times since — is contradicted by two former officials:

Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the ICA. And James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the assessment was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations. ...

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.”

RCI notes that Rogers' skepticism of the dossier could explain why he "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 says that while he believes the Russians intended to hurt Clinton, he does not believe the intelligence community has the evidence to conclude that Russia was actually trying to help Trump, which appears consistent with other reports suggesting Russian operatives were trying to inflame division among the American people and cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process rather than favoring one candidate over another.

RCI highlights Clapper's questionable role in important stages of the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference as well as the dissemination of information in the dossier:

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."

The ICA also diverges from standards by failing to include "any dissenting views or an annex with evaluations of the conclusions from outside reviewers," RCI reports. That failure, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz says, suggests that the Obama administration "manipulated" the process because it was working from a "predetermined political conclusion," an assertion reinforced by the failure to let the DHS and DIA thoroughly vet the information. "I've never viewed the ICA as credible," said Fleitz.

Then there's the role agent Peter Strzok played in the process:

A source close to the House investigation said Brennan himself selected the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, and that they included former FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok. “Strzok was the intermediary between Brennan and [former FBI Director James] Comey, and he was one of the authors of the ICA,” according to the source.

Last year, Strzok was reassigned to another department and removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages he wrote to another investigator during the 2016 campaign were discovered by the Justice Department’s inspector general. Strzok remains under IG investigation, along with other senior FBI officials, for possible misconduct.

As the Daily Wire highlighted, Clapper's role in prompting former FBI Director James Comey's briefing of Trump on the dossier (the Democratic sources of funding for which he didn't bother telling Trump) and the subsequent leaks about that briefing to CNN suggest even more partisan "manipulation" of information. RCI notes that the along with James Tapper, the other CNN reporter who broke the story that opened the door to reporting the unverified and salacious claims in the dossier was "a close friend of the founders of Fusion GPS, which hired Steele as a subcontractor on the dossier project." Clapper has since been hired by CNN as a national security analyst.

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