Against the backdrop of a New York Times article attempting to justify the FBI opening a counterintelligence operation against Donald Trump the current narrative du-jour is to claim the investigation was considered as an outcome of the firing of James Comey in 2017. This is factually false.
FBI Director James Comey outlined the specifics of when the counterintelligence operation began during his March 20, 2017 testimony. Pay close attention. FBI Director James Comey -together with NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers- testified to congress specifically about the timing and notification (first three minutes of the video):
Rep. Stefanik: [01:12] …”when did you notify the White House, the DNI or congressional leadership”?
James Comey: …”good question. Congressional leadership, sometime recently they were briefed on the nature of the investigation, as I said. Obviously the department of justice has been aware of it all along”…
Watch the first 3 minutes of that video. Notice the discomfort etc. We have previously outlined why THAT is such a big deal –SEE HERE– Comey is discussing the notification to congress that took place approximately a week earlier. Prior to that congressional notification FBI Director Comey admits to keeping congress in the dark “because of the sensitivity of the matter” from July 2016 through March 2017.
The issue of the counterintelligence timing becomes an even bigger deal when contrast with the recently exposed testimony from FBI attorney Lisa Page. Pay attention to Lisa Page and then contrast it against CIA Director Brennan’s testimony:
Unidentified Representative: “We have documents that would suggest that in that briefing the dossier was mentioned to Harry Reid and then, obviously, we’re going to have to have conversations. Does that surprise you that Director Brennan would be aware [of the dossier]?”
Page: “Yes, sir. Because with all due honesty, if Director Brennan—so we got that information from our source, right? The FBI got this information from our source. If the CIA had another source of that information, I am neither aware of that nor did the CIA provide it to us if they did, because the first time we—”
Rep.: “We do know there are multiple sources.”
Page: “I do know that. I do know that the information ultimately found its way lots of different places, certainly in October of 2016. But if the CIA as early as August, in fact, had those same reports, I am not aware of—I’m not aware of that and nor do I believe they provided them to us, and that would be unusual.”
Rep: “What you’re saying is when the [CIA] director briefed the White House 2 days prior to that, on August the 8th, or prepared for it, actually briefed him on the 10th, that it had nothing to do with any campaign. Even though George Toscas and Stu Evans knew about it.”
PAGE: “Sir, I would be shocked. I would truly be stunned to discover that the [CIA] director had briefed the president on the substance of our investigation or even the existence of our investigation. I would be—I can’t say it didn’t happen, I wasn’t there, but I would be stunned to discover that.” (link)
Now take a look at what CIA Director John Brennan previously stated. Pay very close attention to the segment at 13:35 of this video of Brennan’s testimony:
Brennan: [13:35] “Third, through the so-called Gang-of-Eight process we kept congress apprised of these issues as we identified them.”
“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.”…
Brennan goes on to say the main substance of those Go8 meetings was the same as the main judgements of the January 2017 classified and unclassified intelligence assessments published by the CIA, FBI, DNI and NSA (intelligence community).
That January reference was the infamous 17 agencies report, from CIA (Brennan), DNI (Clapper), FBI (Comey) and NSA (Rogers), all who had confidence, according to the report, that Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2016 election.
Now, a critic might think that Brennan is informing congress on one thing, and Comey is NOT INFORMING congress on another. However, that angle is rebuked by Brennan’s own testimony that his specific intelligence product (CIA) was given to the FBI who were exclusively in charge of the “counter-intelligence investigation“.
We tackled this contraction last year. Dan encapsulated it nicely in this paragraph:
[…] Brennan gave Comey the investigative product -which had nothing to do with the Trump team- and Comey used it to carry out Obama, Hillary, and Susan Rice’s dirty work for them. Of course Brennan was in on the whole thing and is now saving his own skin by saying ” I briefed ya’ll on everything I had with regards to Russia, anything additional that arose please talk to my buddy Comey”.
Within his testimony Brennan was making Comey own the “Counter-Intelligence ‘Muh Russia'” claims about the Trump campaign. Brennan trying to make Comey the fall-guy for a Robert Mueller investigative outcome. Brennan knows there’s no ‘there’ there.
John Brennan realized someone has focused attention on Comey’s admission to congress that the FBI intentionally kept congress in the dark during the construct of the counter-intel narrative. Congress was kept in the dark during this phase because the narrative can only thrive with innuendo, rumor, gossip etc. The appearance of the investigation itself was the political need; the substance was non-existent and immaterial to the creation of the narrative.
If Comey notified congress, via the Gang of Eight oversight, the counter-intel narrative would have been harder to manufacture as details would have to be consistent. That’s the benefit to keeping any oversight away while creating the politically useful narrative.
John Brennan, facing the looming certainty of the underlying Russian ‘collusion evidence’ being non-existent, in 2017 was trying to give the appearance that he briefed congress on larger Russian election interference issues. However , the trouble for Brennan is his own admission that these issues were the underlying principle for the FBI counter-intelligence investigation. Brennan specifically says he gave his intelligence product to the FBI.
Additionally, “Brennan put some of the dossier material into the PDB [presidential daily briefing] for Obama and described it as coming from a ‘credible source,’ which is how they viewed Steele,” … “But they never corroborated his sources.” (link)
The material within Obama’s PDB, placed by Brennan, is what initially set off alarm bells for Devin Nunes (early 2017) because the material underlying the PDB intelligence product was unmasked by Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
This was the unmasking information that Susan Rice later attempted to clarify:
Susan Rice @00:51 – …”Let me explain how this works. I was a National Security Adviser, my job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. That’s the same as the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and CIA Director.; and every morning, to enable us to do that, we receive – from the intelligence community – a compilation of intelligence reports that the IC, the intelligence community, has selected for us –on a daily basis– to give us the best information as to what’s going on around the world.”
[Note, Susan Rice is describing the PDB]
“I received those reports, as did other officials, and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which, uh, a ‘U.S Person’ was referred to. Name, uh, not provided, just ‘U.S. Person’.
And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance in the report – and assess it’s significance, it was necessary to find out or request, who that U.S. official was.”
The interview goes much further. There was a lot of news in that interview. There is also a tremendous amount of double-speak and self-contradiction; in some cases between sentences that follow each other.
Notice how Susan Rice contradicts herself about what the intelligence community puts into the PDB. Remember, Rice considers the PDB intel community to be very specific: James Clapper (DNI), John Brennan (CIA) and Defense Department (which would be the Pentagon and NSA Mike Rogers). And she states they would never send the President innocuous things unworthy of review.
However, right there Susan Rice is confirming the “unmasking” request(s) which can be pinned upon her, are directly related to her need to understand -on behalf of President Obama- intelligence for the President’s Daily Briefing (the PDB). This was a previous question now answered.
This is EXPLOSIVE, and here’s why.
Remember, the President’s Daily Brief under President Obama went to almost everyone at top levels in his administration. Regarding the Obama PDB:
[…] But while through most of its history the document has been marked “For the President’s Eyes Only,” the PDB has never gone to the president alone. The most restricted dissemination was in the early 1970s, when the book went only to President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who was dual-hatted as national security adviser and secretary of state.
In other administrations, the circle of readers has also included the vice president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with additional White House staffers.
By 2013, Obama’s PDB was making its way to more than 30 recipients, including the president’s top strategic communications aide and speechwriter, and deputy secretaries of national security departments. (link)
♦Sequence. Unbeknownst to the FBI (per testimony from Lisa Page), CIA Director John Brennan was briefing the Gang of Eight [Aug 11th => Sept 6th (2016)] on the Steele Dossier. Brennan was also placing the briefing in Obama’s PDB, and the targets of the dossier, now inside the PDB, were unmasked by Susan Rice.
So the question now becomes: In addition to candidate Donald Trump, who were the targets within the Obama PDB material (placed by Brennan and unmasked by Rice)?
Well, in hindsight, we now know the answer: