Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified portions of two documents that show the CIA picked up intelligence regarding Hillary Clinton’s alleged approval of a campaign to link Donald Trump to Russia’s hacking efforts.
Ratcliffe declassified notes taken in 2016 by then-CIA Director John Brennan during a meeting with President Obama and his national security advisers regarding Russia’s election meddling efforts.
The intelligence chief also declassified sections of a Counterintelligence Operation Lead (CIOL) memo that the CIA sent on Sept. 7, 2016 to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, the top counterintelligence investigator on Crossfire Hurricane.
“Per FBI verbal request, CIA provided the below examples of information the CROSSFIRE HURRICANE fusion cell has gleaned to date,” reads an unredacted portion of the CIOL.
The memo referred to information related to “US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”
Brennan has testified that he created a so-called “fusion cell” in July 2016 that consisted of officials from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency to investigate Russia’s election interference.
The CIA documents, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, were cited last week in a letter that Ratcliffe sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.
That letter said that U.S. intelligence “gained insight” in late July 2016 into “Russian intelligence analysis” that asserted that Clinton had approved a plan to link Trump to Russia’s hacking efforts in order to distract from her use of a private email server.
Ratcliffe said in the letter last week that U.S. intelligence agencies were uncertain whether Russian intelligence had fabricated the information about Clinton’s authorization of the plan. (RELATED: Nunes Suggests Shutting Down Intel Agencies Until They Turn Over ‘Smoking Gun’ Evidence)
Democrats accused Ratcliffe last week of spreading Russian disinformation. A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, told Politico that the allegation was “baseless bullshit.”
The documents released Tuesday do not provide much clarification about the underlying CIA intelligence. They do confirm that the CIA obtained the intelligence Ratcliffe referred to in his letter.
Republicans asserted that the documents raise questions about whether Clinton personally approved the dissemination of a false allegation linking Trump to Russia.
Clinton campaign advisers publicly accused Donald Trump of aiding Russia’s hacking efforts following the July 22, 2016 release of DNC emails through WikiLeaks. A report from the special counsel’s office released last year said there was no evidence that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia to hack and release Democrats’ emails.
According to Brennan’s undated notes, he told President Obama that the intelligence community had picked up evidence that Russians had learned that Clinton personally approved a plan on July 28, 2016 to link Trump to Russia’s hacking of the Democrat National Committee.
Brennan’s notes refer to intelligence related to Clinton’s approval “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.”
Brennan appeared on CNN shortly after Ratcliffe declassified the documents, but denied that they showed any wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. He said during the briefing for Obama, he provided examples of “the type of access that the U.S. intelligence community to Russian information and what the Russians were talking about and alleging.”
“If in fact what the Russians were alleging, that Hillary was trying to highlight the reported connections between Trump and the Russians — and that’s a big ‘if’ — there is nothing at all illegal about that.”
The memo also raises questions about what Comey knew about the intelligence collected by the CIA. The former FBI chief testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he did not recall receiving the information in the CIOL.
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