To protect Hillary “lock her up” Clinton in the run for the White House FAKE information given to pugnacious Senator, “Harry Black Eye” Reid was the meal ticket utilized to sabotage the Trump run for the Presidency of the United States. JOHN BRENNAN! Yes Brennan, under the head of the CIA under Obama told Reid not to release it, but did he?
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sends a letter to then-FBI Director Comey voicing concern over Russian interference in the election and asking Comey to open an FBI investigation.
– The Washington Times – Saturday, May 12, 2018
Then-Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid released a letter in the heat of the 2016 election alleging Trump-Russia collusion even though the CIA director at the time urged him not to, according to a person familiar with their conversation.
Mr. Reid’s Aug. 27 letter to the FBI appears to mark the first time a Democrat officially accused President’ Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russian government to hack his party’s computers.
The letter has come to represent for conservatives the “deep state” — Obama loyalists leaking unproven allegations to the press against Mr. Trump and his people to ruin the campaign, the transition and the White House.
“The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” Mr. Reid wrote to FBI Director James B. Comey.
Mr. Reid wrote and leaked his letter after receiving a secret telephone briefing from then-CIA Director John Brennan.
The retired senator has portrayed the letter as having the blessing of Mr. Brennan, a fierce Trump critic who suggests the president is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin for fear of blackmail.
But now the Brennan side rebuts Mr. Reid’s contention that the then-CIA director was actively trying to leak damaging anti-Trump information during the election.
Nick Shapiro, former deputy chief of staff for Mr. Brennan as CIA director, told The Washington Times that his ex-boss considered the information sensitive. He expressly urged Mr. Reid to confine the information to private discussions with Mr. Comey.
That August, Mr. Brennan was briefing the so called “gang of eight” congressional leaders on Russian computer hacking and on suspicious that Trump people were involved.
Mr. Shapiro, now a Brennan adviser, provided this version of the Brennan-Reid phone call:
“Brennan used the same exact notes to brief Reid as he used with the other members of the Gang of Eight. In fact, most of the conversation was spent with Senator Reid telling Brennan what he had heard about Russians and the Trump campaign. Senator Reid informed Brennan that he was in the process of drafting a letter to Comey about his concerns. When Senator Reid asked Brennan whether he could reference this information in the letter to Comey, Brennan said ‘no,’ as the intelligence was being tightly controlled and he was worried that the letter would get out into the public. Brennan told him that Comey had been fully briefed on the intelligence and if he wanted to, it would be better to talk to him about it in a secure manner when he returned to D.C. instead of putting it in a letter.”
Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, wrote the letter anyway. And it was leaked to The New York Times and then migrated throughout the mainstream media.
It contained references to a Trump aide traveling to Moscow and allegedly meeting with two sanctioned Kremlin figures — an allegation contained in the Democratic Party-financed dossier written by ex-British spy Christopher Steele. The unnamed person is Carter Page, who has denied under oath he ever met the two people named by Mr. Steele.
The dossier at that point had not been published. The FBI possessed copies and had opened a counter-intelligence investigation into Russia meddling the previous month.
Mr. Reid’s version of his phone call from Mr. Brennan is contained in the best-selling book, “Russian Roulette,” which embraces the Trump-Russia conspiracy and promotes the Steele dossier.
The book says:
“Reid also had the impression that Brennan had an ulterior motive,” the authors said. “He concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russian operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign. When Reid later was asked if Brennan directly or indirectly had enlisted him to push information held by the intelligence community into the public realm, he told an interviewer, ‘Why do you think he called me?’ “
Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Brennan’s adviser, said that specific book excerpt is inaccurate. He also told The Times that rather than trying to sell Trump-Russia collusion during the campaign, the Obama White House and Mr. Brennan stayed silent.
The Washington Times submitted questions to Mr. Reid’s associates at a public policy institute in Nevada where he serves as co-chairman. The queries went unanswered.
Mr. Reid did not stop his drumbeat on Trump-Russia. After Mr. Steele leaked his dossier narrative to selected reporters in Washington, Yahoo News, whose Michael Isikoff co-authored “Russian Roulette,” wrote a story.
But The New York Times dampened the narrative with an Oct. 31 story headlined, “Investigating Donald Trump, FBISees No Clear Link to Russia.”
Mr. Reid was furious
Adam Jentleson, his deputy chief of staff, tweeted, “I’ll say it: NYT interviewed Reid for this story. He said things contrary to the story. NYT discarded the interview.”
“Maybe some want to know why the NYT seemed to cover for Comey’s FBI? Maybe even some at the NYT? Maybe not? I’m just asking questions,” Jentleson said. The New York Times would go on to become one of journalism’s chief proponents of Trump-Russia collusion.
The Washington Times has examined Mr. Steele’s series of collusion charges and found that none has been confirmed independently and publicly at this point. Special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate.
The Carter Page FISAs are out via the Freedom of Information Act. Here are a few observations, relatively brief but still just a bit too long for Twitter.
First, a huge amount of information is redacted in these FISA applications, but they still represent a monumental disclosure to the public. The government considers FISA applications to be very sensitive—and their disclosure, even heavily redacted, may have long-term, programmatic consequences long after we’re finished with President Trump. The government seems to have accepted that FOIA applies to FISA. Without taking a position on the issue it made me recall this Lawfare post that argues to the contrary.
Second, for those who don’t remember, the controversy about these FISA applications first arose in February when House intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes released a memo claiming that the FBI misled the FISA Court about Christopher Steele, the former British secret agent who compiled the “dossier” on Trump-Russia ties and who was a source of information in the FISA applications on Page. The main complaint in the Nunes memo was that FBI whitewashed Steele—that the FISA applications did not “disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.”
In response to the Nunes memo, the Democrats on the committee released their own memo. That memo quoted from parts of the FISA applications, including a footnote in which the FBI explained that Steele was hired to “conduct research regarding Candidate #1,” Donald Trump, and Trump’s “ties to Russia,” and that the man who hired him was “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump’s] campaign.”
Based on this back and forth between the HPSCI partisans, I wrote on Lawfare at the time that the FBI’s disclosures on Steele “amply satisfie[d] the requirements” for FISA applications, and that the central irony of the Nunes memo was that it “tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court.” The Nunes memo accused the FBI of dishonesty in failing to disclose information about Steele, but in fact the Nunes memo itself was dishonest in failing to disclose what the FBI disclosed. I said then, and I still believe, that the “Nunes memo was dishonest. And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy.”
Now we have some additional information in the form of the redacted FISA applications themselves, and the Nunes memo looks even worse. In my earlier post, I observed that the FBI’s disclosures about Steele were contained in a footnote, but argued that this did not detract from their sufficiency: “As someone who has read and approved many FISA applications and dealt extensively with the FISA Court, I will anticipate and reject a claim that the disclosure was somehow insufficient because it appeared in a footnote; in my experience, the court reads the footnotes.” Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it. The FBI gave the court enough information to evaluate Steele’s credibility.
There’s also more detail on the previous disclosure from the House intelligence committee Democrats’ memo on how Steele went to the press with the “dossier” when FBI Director James Comey sent his October 2016 letter to Congress disclosing the possible newfound importance of the Weiner laptop in the Clinton investigation. According to the FISA applications, Steele complained that Comey’s action could influence the election. But when Steele went to the press, it caused FBI to close him out as an informant—facts which are disclosed and cross-referenced in the footnote in bold text.
While I am sure people will try, my initial impression is that with all the redactions it is going to be very tough to figure out the full scope of information supporting the Court’s repeated finding of probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an agent of Russia. There is a mention of two Russians, one of whom pleaded guilty to being an unregistered agent of a foreign government and was sentenced to 30 months, but even that is disconnected from the redacted discussion that precedes it. Substantively, the government seems to have hewed as closely to the prior disclosures as it could in applying FOIA.
But it is worth noting that—and as the Democrats previously pointed out—the judges who signed off on these four FISA applications were all appointed by Republican presidents, including one George H.W. Bush appointee (Anne Conway), two George W. Bush appointees (Rosemary Collyer and Michael Mosman) and one Reagan appointee (Raymond Dearie). I know some of those judges, and they certainly are not the types to let partisan politics affect their legal judgments.
This illusion to the Republican appointed judges is in fact not telling the whole story because, the FISA applications did not “disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.”