CIA told Obama of claim Hillary Clinton conjured Trump-Russia scandal: spy chief

Advertisements

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday released a bombshell allegation that Hillary Clinton ordered “a campaign plan to stir up a scandal” by linking President Trump to Russia in 2016 — and that then-President Barack Obama knew about the possibility.

Ratcliffe disclosed the information in a letter published by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) just hours before Trump debates Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time.

Clinton’s alleged July 2016 plot would tar Trump by “tying him to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee,” Ratcliffe wrote Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Handwritten notes by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who now is a fiery anti-Trump commentator, say that Brennan briefed Obama on “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 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.”

The FBI opened its investigation of possible Trump-Russia collusion on July 31, 2016 — five days after Clinton allegedly hatched the plan — premised on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos allegedly telling an Australian diplomat that Russia had damaging information on Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee..

It’s unclear when Obama was briefed or if Biden also was informed.

Two months before the 2016 election, Ratcliffe wrote that US intelligence officials “forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Corney and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding ‘U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.’”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump-Russia collusion concluded last year without evidence of a criminal conspiracy involving the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump often bitterly remarks that it was a major distraction during his first term and calls it a “hoax.”

Ratcliffe said the intelligence community was unable to confirm the validity of the claim that Clinton cooked up the scandal. He wrote the information was derived from “Russian intelligence analysis ” that could have been an “exaggeration or fabrication.” Sources told Politico that members of both parties on the Senate Intelligence Committee previously discounted the claim as unsupported by fact.

Ratcliffe wrote Graham that Attorney General Will Barr “advised that the disclosure of this information will not interfere with ongoing Department of Justice investigations.”

Spokesmen for Obama, Biden and Clinton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Biden’s role in Russia-linked investigations emerged earlier this year in the prosecution of Trump’s former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his Trump transition calls with Russia’s ambassador.

The Justice Department is seeking to drop Flynn’s case before sentencing, arguing FBI agents including Strzok had no valid basis to interview Flynn days into Trump’s presidency about the calls, which were made with the knowledge of other transition officials. Flynn says he did not intentionally lie.

Biden allegedly provided Strzok with the never-used Logan Act of 1799 as a rationale to keep open an investigation of Flynn that the FBI was prepared to close. The Logan Act bans ordinary citizens from conducting foreign diplomacy. It has never resulted in a conviction and is widely considered unconstitutional.

Flynn’s legal team alleges that a note apparently written by Strzok on Jan. 4, 2017, implicates Biden in selecting the Logan Act. “VP: ‘Logan Act’,” the note attributed to Strzok says.