Obama admin briefed on claims Hillary Clinton drummed up Russia controversy to vilify Trump, distract from emails
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has declassified information indicating that former President Obama’s administration knew of allegations that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was attempting to tie Trump to Russia and distract from her email scandal in 2016.
DNI John Ratcliffe informed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that former President Obama’s administration obtained the Russian intelligence in July of 2016, but cautioned that the intelligence community (IC) “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
The declassified information doesn’t offer specifics on the intelligence obtained but does reveal that former CIA Director John Brennan’s handwritten notes show that he briefed Obama on the intelligence. According to DNI John Ratcliffe’s letter, it included the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”
Senate Democrats panned the Russian intelligence as disinformation. “Politico reported that Nick Merrill, Clinton’s spokesperson, called the allegations ‘baseless b——t'”
“This is Russian disinformation,” tweeted Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. She added that it was “laundered by the Director Of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is extraordinary.”
In September of 2016, U.S. intelligence officials also forwarded an investigative referral on Clinton purportedly approving “a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S . elections” in order to distract the public from her email scandal.
Tuesday’s letter will likely add to mounting scrutiny of the DOJ’s initial investigation into Trump’s campaign and Democrats’ influence on foundational information like the Steele Dossier. That probe eventually evolved into a multi-year, special counsel investigation that cost American taxpayers more than $30 milion.
Under Attorney General William Barr, the Justice Department has been reviewing the process Obama’s DOJ undertook in order to probe the origins of the Russia investigation.
Last week, Barr penned a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., stating that the source of the infamous Steele dossier — which informed a the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign — was under investigation for suspected contact with Russian intelligence officers.
“In connection with your Committee’s investigation of these matters and ongoing hearings, you have been asking us to accelerate this process and to provide any additional information relating to the reliability of the work of Christopher Steele and the so-called ‘Steele dossier,’ as long as its release would not compromise U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing criminal investigation,” Barr wrote.
“A footnote in the Inspector General’s report contains information, which up till now has been classified and redacted, bearing on the reliability of the Steele dossier,” Barr wrote. “The FBI has declassified the relevant portion of the footnote, number 334, which states that ‘the Primary Sub-source was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.'”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.