ANALYSIS How Much Did Brennan, Obama, and Comey Actually Know Before FBI Opened Investigation Into Trump
ANALYSIS How Much Did Brennan, Obama, and Comey Actually Know Before FBI Opened Investigation Into Trump

By Jeff Carlson

News analysis

Few other officials in government had such a large hand in establishing and promoting the Russia-Collusion Hoax as did former CIA Director John Brennan.

Brennan admitted during congressional testimony that he “made sure that anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign was shared with the FBI.” And by his own admission, Brennan even used incidental collection of U.S. citizens in the process, telling Rachel Maddow that “any time we would incidentally collect information on a U.S. person, we would hand that over to the FBI.”

With the release of the report by special counsel John Durham, we now know that Brennan knew back in July 2016, even before the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane case into the Trump campaign was opened, that the entire Russia-Collusion narrative was a hoax.

Durham’s report discusses “the government’s handling of certain intelligence that it received during the summer of 2016” concerning the “approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump” by tying him to Russia.

That foreign policy adviser is almost certainly Biden’s current national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who at the time held the title of senior foreign policy adviser for the Clinton campaign.

The “Plan” by Clinton would be to smear Trump as colluding with Russia in an attempt to win the 2016 election. It was Brennan who would have one of the most prominent roles in promoting this lie.

Brennan created the Intelligence Community Assessment, which was released in January 2017, and became a cornerstone in the narrative that Trump had colluded with Russia to win the election.

Brennan’s actions against Trump, however, began long before his creation of the ICA. In late July 2016, Brennan received the intelligence that Clinton had “approved a campaign plan” to vilify Trump “by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”

An often overlooked point is that Brennan received intelligence noting Clinton’s “approval” of the plan. This detail is important because the actual plan was likely hatched months before, in early 2016.

We know this because in Oct. 2016, Wikileaks released an email exchange between Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Democratic strategist Joel Johnson. Their late February 2016 exchange revealed the early existence of a Clinton smear campaign aimed at Trump. At the time, the email was largely ignored, but with Durham’s report it has now gained new relevance.

By mid-April 2016, it had become increasingly clear that Trump would be Clinton’s opponent in the general election. Trump’s primary successes coincided with a decision in late April by the Clinton campaign to hire Fusion GPS, a firm of political operatives run by former Wall Street Journal staffer Glenn Simpson. On May 3, 2016, Trump won the Indiana primary and became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

According to earlier court filings by Durham, the day after Trump became the presumptive nominee, a cyber group working through former Perkins Coie and Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann began compiling and curating data that would later be used to create the false appearance of a link between the Trump Organization and the Russian Alfa Bank. That alleged link, known as the Clinton-funded Alfa Bank allegations, would later be used by the Clinton campaign to push the false narrative that Trump had ties to the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, Brennan was busy collecting information on the Trump campaign and pushing it to the FBI. As Brennan told Chuck Todd during a Feb. 4, 2018, interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “We, the CIA and the intelligence community, had collected a fair amount of information in the summer of 2016 about what the Russians were doing on multiple fronts. And we wanted to make sure that the FBI had full access to that.” Notably, it was Brennan himself who acknowledged during his May 2017 congressional testimony that his “intelligence” served as the basis for the FBI counterintelligence investigation, stating that he “was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons … and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation.”

The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation was formally opened on July 31, 2016, but there were a number of significant events that directly preceded it.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who had joined the Trump campaign in late February 2016 as an informal adviser on foreign policy matters, was interviewed on July 18, 2016, at the Republican National Convention by Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff, who immediately attacked Flynn for a dinner he attended in Moscow on Dec. 10, 2015, thereby planting the initial seeds of the Russia-Collusion narrative. Isikoff would later meet with dossier author Christopher Steele in September 2016.

The resulting Sept. 23, 2016, article from Isikoff’s meeting with Steele was then cited by the FBI as validating Steele’s claims in a play of circular reporting and was later featured in the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application and the three subsequent renewals on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

On July 24, 2016, following on the heels of Isikoff’s fateful interview with Flynn, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook publicly suggested for the first time that Russia was somehow helping Trump. Mook claimed in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that the Russian government was behind the release of DNC emails and that they were doing so specifically to help Trump. Mook claimed that “there are a number of experts that are asserting this” but failed to address who the so-called “experts” were.

Two days after Mook invoked Russia, Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination. It was on the very same day of her nomination that Clinton approved the plan from “one of her foreign policy advisors” to “vilify Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security forces.”

On July 27, 2016, the after the approval from Clinton, Christopher Steele produced a dossier memo alleging “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Steele’s memo perfectly echoed the basis of Clinton’s plan.

Brennan Briefs Obama, Biden, and Comey

Durham’s Report notes that Brennan briefed President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and FBI Director James Comey about Clinton’s plan “on August 3, 2016, within days of receiving the Clinton Plan intelligence.” Durham further states that, “According to Brennan’s handwritten notes and his recollections from the meeting, he briefed on relevant intelligence known to date on Russian election interference, including the Clinton Plan intelligence.”

Supposedly, this date is the first time Brennan informed anyone else of Clinton’s plan, a date that is conveniently after the FBI had already opened their Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

But here’s where things get really interesting.

Durham doesn’t provide the exact date that Brennan received the Clinton Plan but he does note that “the Intelligence Community received the Clinton Plan intelligence in late July 2016,” before the FBI opened their Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Durham also states that “the official who initially received the information immediately recognized its importance including its relevance to the U.S. presidential election and acted quickly to make CIA leadership aware of it.”

It seems clear from this information alone that Brennan had the information before the FBI opened its investigation on July 31. Meanwhile, much deeper in Durham’s report, almost at the very end, Durham states that “FBI leadership disregarded the Clinton Plan intelligence, which it received at almost the exact same time as the Australian Paragraph Five information.” This data point is extremely important.

The Paragraph Five information is the information the FBI received relating to Australian Diplomat Alexander Downer’s conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and was used as the basis or predicate for opening Crossfire Hurricane.

Crucially, we know from both Durham and Mueller that the Paragraph Five information was received by FBI Headquarters on July 28 after an FBI legal attache sent an electronic communication containing the information to the assistant special agent in charge at the Philadelphia field office. Furthermore, Durham notes that “at precisely the same time as the Clinton Plan intelligence was received (i) the Clinton campaign made public statements tying the DNC computer hack to Russian attempts to help Trump get elected, (ii) the FBI was receiving the Clinton campaign-funded Steele Reports, and (iii) the Clinton campaign-funded Alfa Bank allegations were being prepared for delivery to the media and the FBI.” Notably, each of these events preceded the opening of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016.

Now why is all this important?

Because Brennan told Durham that he didn’t receive the Clinton Plan intelligence until after the FBI’s investigation was opened. But Brennan’s claims simply don’t make sense in light of the timeline and evidence presented above. Every data point we have strongly indicates that Brennan had the Clinton Plan information in the days leading up to the FBI’s opening of Crossfire Hurricane—not after the opening of the investigation.

Nor do Brennan’s claims pass the reasonability test in light of his actions just after July 27—the date that the evidence we’ve presented strongly indicates he received the Clinton Plan intelligence. This is extremely important. Why? Because according to Durham’s Report, “On July 28, 2016, Brennan met with President Obama and other White House personnel.”

It was during this meeting that Brennan and Obama “discussed intelligence relevant to the 2016 presidential election as well as the potential creation of an inter-agency Fusion Cell to synthesize and analyze intelligence” about Russian attempts to influence the election. The very next day, on the morning of July 29, Brennan met with Comey “to brief him on his July 28th meeting with the President.”

It’s here that Durham says that “Brennan could not recall when he actually saw the Clinton Plan intelligence, but he did not think he had the information when he spoke to Comey on that morning.”

It’s also important to note that these events come from Brennan himself, who is very careful to leave out any mention of the Clinton Plan intelligence with regard to his meeting with Obama.

Durham then notes that Brennan claimed that the inter-agency Fusion Cell, a team that Brennan created from hand-picked members of various intel agencies to ostensibly analyze intelligence on Russian influence activities, “was put in motion directly after his meeting with President Obama on July 28th.”

Importantly, Durham notes that “email traffic and witness interviews conducted by the Office reflect that at least some CIA personnel believed that the Clinton Plan intelligence led to the decision being made to set up the Fusion Cell.” In other words, Brennan’s receipt of the Clinton Plan preceded any discussion of the Fusion Cell that occurred during his July 28, 2016, meeting with Obama.

Durham also notes that “immediately after communicating with the President, Comey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to discuss relevant intelligence, Brennan and other agency officials took steps to ensure that dissemination of intelligence, including the Clinton Plan intelligence, would be limited.”

Special counsel John Durham arrives at federal court in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Teng Chen for The Epoch Times)

There’s another data point that also falls into this sequence—the Clinton-funded Alfa Bank allegations mentioned above. The day after Brennan briefed Obama, a meeting took place at the Perkins Coie offices on July 29, 2016.

At this meeting, Sussmann and fellow Perkins attorney Marc Elias met with Fusion GPS principals, including Simpson and Steele. According to Durham’s earlier indictment of Sussmann, the timing of this meeting at Perkins coincides with the completion of Sussmann’s curation of the data behind the Clinton campaign-funded Alfa Bank allegations.

As we noted earlier, Durham in his report says that “at precisely the same time as the Clinton Plan intelligence was received the Clinton campaign-funded Alfa Bank allegations were being prepared for delivery to the media and the FBI.” By the time of this meeting, the data had already been compiled and prepared.

To summarize, the sequence of events is as follows: On July 26, 2016, Clinton approved a pre-existing plan to vilify Trump by claiming he was compromised by Russia. The next day, on July 27, Steele suddenly produced a new memo that falsely made the same claims outlined in Clinton’s plan. That same day, Brennan gained knowledge of Clinton’s plan. He likely briefed Obama on the Clinton Plan early on July 28—although he denies this—and then immediately began creating the inter-agency Fusion Cell, which, according to CIA members of the Fusion Cell, was actually created because of the Clinton Plan information. Brennan then briefed FBI Director Comey the next day. Concurrently, Fusion’s Simpson and Steele were working with Clinton campaign lawyer Sussmann to release the Alfa Bank allegations.

All of these events transpired before the FBI opened its Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31.

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