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The Nation goes after the intel community

When The Nation starts questioning the FBI under a Democrat administration, you should watch carefully.


Russiagate or Intelgate?

Even though both have been substantially challenged for their lack of verifiable evidence, the dossier and subsequent ICA report remain the underlying sources for proponents of the Russiagate narrative of “Trump-Putin collision.” The memo and dossier are now being subjected to close (if partisan) scrutiny, much of it focused on the Clinton campaign’s having financed Steele’s work through his employer, Fusion GPS. But two crucial and ramifying question are not, Cohen argues, being explored: Exactly when, and by whom, was this Intel operation against Trump started? And exactly where did Steele get the “information” that he was filing in periodic installments and that grew into the dossier? In order to defend itself against the memo’s charge that it used Steele’s unverified dossier to open its investigation into Trump’s associates, the FBI claims it was prompted instead by a May 2016 report of remarks made earlier by another lowly Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, to an Australian ambassador in a London bar. Even leaving aside the ludicrous nature of this episode, the public record shows it is not true. In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017, John Brennan, formerly Obama’s head of the CIA, strongly suggested that he and his agency were the first, as The Washington Post put it at the time, “in triggering an FBI probe.” Certainly both the Post and The New York Times interpreted his remarks in this way. Equally certain, Brennan played a central role in promoting the Russiagate narrative thereafter, briefing members of Congress privately and giving President Obama himself a top-secret envelope in early August 2016 that almost certainly contained Steele’s dossier. Early on, Brennan presumably would have shared his “suspicions” and initiatives with James Clapper, director of national intelligence. FBI Director Comey, distracted by his mangling of the Clinton private-server affair during the presidential campaign, may have joined them actively somewhat later. But when he did so publicly, in his March 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, it was as J. Edgar Hoover reincarnate—as the nation’s number-one expert on Russia and its profound threat to America (though, when asked, he said he had never heard of Gazprom, the giant Russian-state energy company often said to be a major pillar of President Putin’s power).
     — Stephen F. Cohen
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