A letter from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe given to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday was a true bombshell, alleging that U.S. intelligence was weaponized in an effort to defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
According to the letter, the CIA discovered in mid-2016 that Russia believed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton personally approved a scheme to deflect attention from her email server scandal by ginning up a narrative that the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia to win the U.S. presidential race,
This allegation sounds plausible, since it coincides with an effort — funded by the Democratic National Committee in July 2016 — by former British spy Christopher Steele to assemble a salacious and false anti-Trump dossier that was used by the FBI to justify spying on a member of the Trump campaign.
And there was a related bombshell: one of the sources hired by Steele to assemble his dossier was suspected by the FBI of being a Russian spy.
Ratcliffe’s letter said President Barack Obama and other senior officials were briefed on the reported Clinton-approved scheme to smear the Trump campaign on July 26, 2016 and that this matter was referred to the FBI on September 7, 2016,
Ratcliffe conceded he does not know whether this is Russian disinformation or if Clinton actually approved this plot. He added there is other related intelligence on this matter that remains classified,
This revelation has led to several difficult questions.
What did senior Obama administration officials know about this and when did they know it?
How involved were President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice in this scheme?
What is the explanation for why the FBI decided to act on the fraudulent Steele dossier but apparently ignored the alleged Clinton scheme to smear the Trump campaign?
And how can anyone believe fired FBI Director James Comey’s claims during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that he doesn’t remember anything about the allegations in Ratcliffe’s letter?
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Although Republican senators rejected Comey’s response, this is not the first time Comey has claimed memory lapses to avoid incriminating himself on the Obama administration’s weaponization of intelligence against the Trump campaign.
One of the most important questions raised by the Ratcliffe letter concerned the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to two unnamed sources cited by Politico, the Intelligence Committee knew about the allegations in Ratcliffe’s letter “early on in its investigation” of Russian meddling in the 2016 election but rejected them because they had “no factual basis.”
This poses two more troubling questions about the Senate Intelligence Committee.
First, why did committee members reject these allegations out of hand when they are so similar to allegations about the Steele dossier and involve events that occurred around the same time?
And second, even if there were concerns that allegations of a Clinton-approved scheme to smear the Trump campaign was Russian disinformation, why was this allegation omitted from the thousands of pages of five declassified reports released by the Intelligence Committee on Russian meddling in the 2016 election? This is a significant piece of information that the committee should have informed the American people about and let us judge for ourselves.
So why did the Senate Intelligence Committee hide this information from the American people?
An obvious reason is that Democratic senators and staff members objected to including this information in committee reports because it would vindicate President Trump. I believe there is other information helpful to Trump that committee Democrats also omitted. I wrote about another instance in a Fox News op-ed in April.
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A more important reason is that the Senate Intelligence Committee was poorly led by former Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., who was so weak that he essentially let Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., run the committee.
Burr constantly deferred to Warner’s efforts to use the Senate Intelligence Committee to promote the fraudulent Trump campaign-Russia collusion narrative. This included Burr publicly challenging findings by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to spy on Trump campaign aides were based on the Steele dossier and that a January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election was rigged to hurt President Trump.
If the Senate Intelligence Committee had been competently led by Sen. Burr, the allegations in the Ratcliffe letter would have been released to the public years ago.
According to the Politico article, several former senior intelligence officials described Ratcliffe’s letter as incendiary and irresponsible. The article quoted former CIA Director John Brennan’s chief of staff, who said Ratcliffe “should be ashamed of his blatant politicization of his position.”
Senior intelligence officials appeared to leak to The Wall Street Journal that they urged Ratcliffe not to release what they called “unverified allegations about Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election.”
Of course these former officials said these things. This whole affair reflects the unseemly, chummy relationship between members of the foreign policy establishment, both Republicans and Democrats, Sen. Burr and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. They were sucked into this relationship in the mistaken belief that everyone was working together to promote national security.
But in fact, Democratic politicians and career intelligence officers were more interested in exploiting this relationship to undermine the Trump administration.
Thank God for John Ratcliffe, He looked at intelligence files and released vital information about the Russia collusion hoax that the foreign policy establishment and career intelligence officials don’t want to public to see.
Ratcliffe is an independent director of national intelligence who wants to get politics out of U.S. intelligence and is not interested in placating intelligence careerists or cozying up to the foreign policy establishment.
My hope is that if President Trump is reelected, he will name more officials to head government agencies like John Ratcliffe, who will use their authority to keep government honest and press career employees to keep politics out of their work.