“After Trump’s surprise election, then-President Obama directed “CIA Director John Brennan to conduct a review of all intelligence relating to Russian involvement in the 2016 election and produce a single comprehensive assessment.” With Brennan at the helm, the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and FBI compiled a report for Obama, which the FBI insisted include the now-discredited Christopher Steele dossier.
Other intelligence leaders objected, and as the committee report explained, the disagreement “was ultimately resolved by including the information as Annex A, a two-page summary attached only to the most classified version of the ICA.” The report explained the NSA was not involved in the discussion or the decision to include the Steele dossier in the annex, but then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that Steele’s “intel” be included, although he “was agnostic as to whether it was footnoted in the document itself, put as an annex.”
Significantly, in tracing this history of the decision to include the Steele dossier in the intel report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence noted that “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” Steele’s reporting.
But the FBI did stand behind Steele reporting to federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges four times: once months earlier, and then mere weeks after the FBI opted to only summarize the dossier in the annex to the ICA report because the agents didn’t “want to stand behind” the reporting. As Inspect General Michael Horowitz found, and as the recent additional declassifications of the FISA applications prove, the Steele dossier was indispensable to the FISA surveillance applications. Yet “the FBI didn’t want to stand behind” it!
Nonetheless, and without a hint of self-reflection, Comey has pointed to yesterday’s Senate report as exoneration. Those who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election “were professionals,” Comey tweeted.