In an otherwise well-buried interview between former interim CIA Director Mike Morell, (the temp director following Petraeus ouster used during initial Benghazi cover), there’s an admission by Morell about the politicized Deep State Intelligence leadership targeting candidate Donald Trump.
What this interview tells CTH is that the Intelligence Community, writ large, is on the precipice of massive institutional change -perhaps high level firings of remaining mid level operators and management- and those who participated in the historic politicization are now attempting to shape an explanation.
[Via Politico] QUESTION: Was that a mistake?
Mike Morell: So, I don’t think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn’t think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don’t think I fully thought through the implications.
And one of the ways I’ve thought about that, Susan, is—okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from—it’s very important—one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy—the president—understands the other guy. Right?
So, let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?
Beyond all else what Morell is doing here is an admission. Mike Morell is admitting to the politicization of the intelligence community.
Morell is also admitting that every concern expressed by candidate, president-elect and President Trump was -and is- correct. However, Morell is simultaneously trying to explain, justify and excuse it; as well as cover his ass.
[…] And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.
And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, “What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?” The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.
So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day—John Brennan came out publicly and said, “That would be an act of folly.” So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?
Then he becomes president, and he’s supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn’t. And within a few days, there’s leaks about how he’s not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought—right?—that, “Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?”
So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don’t know. But it’s something I didn’t think about. (read more)
The entire interview with Mike Morell is an exercise in ass-covering as the larger institutional Intelligence Community (IC) begins to see what’s coming into focus on the horizon. James Clapper and John Brennan previously tried this approach.
It is not coincidental the origin of all ‘vast-Russian-conspiracy‘ stories seem to start with a discussion of intelligence gathering beginning in July of 2016. The GOP convention to nominate Donald Trump was July 18-21st of 2016.
Surrounding the nomination that stunned the geo-political world almost every foreign government was trying to figure out who and what Donald J Trump was all about; and more specifically: how would his run for the presidency impact their specific interests.
WASHINGTON NYT — American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.
[Paragraph #5] The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing. It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election. (link)
The New York Times should win a Pulitzer for undermining their own ‘Russian Conspiracy’ headline narrative within the fifth paragraph. [It’s a current trend] I digress.
Obviously Russia would be asking these questions along with China, France, England, the larger EU and every nation in every continent. It would be silly to claim otherwise.
Ergo a diplomatic mission by Russian governmental officials surrounding the GOP convention to understand the Trump orbit is no different than a Chinese, European or Arab-Asian effort for the same reason.
However, what the international interest did necessarily initiate was a bunch of foreign officials making contact with anyone and everyone who would be associated with Trump-world regardless of concentric circle distance from the epicenter.
That intellectually honest understanding highlights how the origin of the July 2016 raw intelligence gathering began so easily. The CIA monitoring chatter amid foreign diplomats, their customary job, turns into raw data provided to the FBI which in turn becomes FISA warrants to explore the U.S. contacts on the other side of that chatter.
The FISA warrants turn into intelligence reports and that begins the entire process now known as “unmasking” etc. Nothing within this process so far is even in question. This is the accurate backdrop for the origin of intelligence reports used as political weapons. CIA Director John Brennan testified to this exact process before congress.
However, what is not reported by any media outline is John Brennan, understanding the potential legal risk looming on the horizon, also completely backed toward the exit and threw FBI Director James Comey in front of the rapidly approaching sunlight.
Former CIA Director John Brennan gave very specific testimony to congress where he noted he provided the raw intelligence to FBI Director Comey – FULLSTOP.
Where “fullstop” directly and immediately indicates Brennan’s throwing the responsibility for all that came next upon FBI Director James Comey. John Brennan did the ‘outta-here-like-a-fat-kid-playing-dodge-ball routine‘ with great specificity:
“Again, in consultation with the White House, I PERSONALLY briefed the full details of our understanding of Russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership; specifically: Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr; and to representatives Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff between 11th August and 6th September , I provided the same briefing to each of the gang of eight members.”
“Given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counter-intelligence case [that means the FBI], involving an ongoing Russian effort, to interfere in our presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of congress; each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member.”… (link)
Shorter version: don’t try pinning this Russian investigation, FISA warrants and the illegal leaks, on me; I just provided the raw intelligence.
It is important to emphasize here the possibly illegal “unmasking“, and the certainly illegal “leaking“, were all based on intelligence reports generated from raw intelligence, and not the raw intelligence itself. It was the FBI (Comey) and ODNI (Clapper) generating the intel reports, including the Presidents’ Daily Briefing (PDB).
The CIA provided raw intel, and the NSA generated the raw monitoring intelligence from the characters identified by the CIA and approved by FBI FISA warrant submissions.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras – who was, until recently, the judge in Flynn’s case.
The FBI were running the counter-intelligence operation and generating the actual reports that were eventually shared with the White House, Susan Rice and the Dept of Justice. Those reports, and interpretations of the report content, were eventually leaked to the media.
During the time James Comey’s FBI was generating the intelligence reports, Comey admitted he intentionally never informed congressional oversight: “because of the sensitivity of the matter“.
John Brennan effectively (and intentionally) took himself out of the picture from the perspective of the illegal acts within the entire process. James Clapper while rubbing his face and scratching his head had taken the same route earlier.
That leaves James Comey.
The answer to that question explains why Comey changed his mind on testifying to congress before talking to newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former FBI Director James Comey is not stupid and is intensely political. Comey understands the legal risks he is facing within the faux “Russian conspiracy story” and the “subsequent leaking” of his political FBI reports.
James Clapper (DNI) and John Brennan (CIA) have essentially left Comey holding the bag of nothing-burgers while standing on the hot coals of possibly: A) illegal leaking; and B.) unethical unmasking; and C.) illegal use of investigative resources for political objectives – All three stemming from activity within his FBI counter-intelligence investigation.
If the entire fiasco blows up, does Comey anticipate the Trump DOJ taking legal action against him? If yes, can Comey leverage/mold the nothing-burgers into plausible claims of investigative interference by President Trump in order to generate a get-out-of-jail card for himself?…. Now we understand the current narrative status.
Beside the media, who will help Comey in that regard?