“In late 2015, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was involved in collecting information regarding then-candidate Donald Trump and transmitting it to the United States. The GCHQ is the UK equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
Brennan appears to have played an instrumental role in passing on unofficial foreign intelligence—primarily from the UK, but also from other Five Eyes members, such as Australia—to the FBI.
Brennan stated that during a May 23, 2017, congressional testimony:
“I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the [FBI],” Brennan said in his testimony.
Brennan also stated that it was his intelligence that helped establish the FBI investigation:
“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred,” Brennan said.
According to The NY Times, one area of specific focus for Durham is the Intelligence Community Assessment, or ICA, which was the last of three reports produced by Brennan and Clapper and was released on Jan. 6, 2017.
The final report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” significantly propelled the allegation that Trump had colluded with Russia into the public sphere. Notably, Adm. Mike Rogers, who at the time was director of the National Security Agency, publicly dissented from the findings of the ICA, assigning it only a moderate confidence level.
Justice Department (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz recently determined that, despite repeated assurances by members of the Intelligence Community to the contrary, “unverified information from Steele’s dossier”—referring to the opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee—was used “in an interagency assessment of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 elections.”
Horowitz did note that the CIA was somewhat reluctant to include Christopher Steele’s reporting in their assessments but that “the FBI, including [Director James] Comey and [Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, sought to include the reporting in the ICA [intelligence community assessment].”
While Brennan has publicly denied using the dossier for the ICA, he did attach a two-page summary of the dossier to the intelligence community assessment that he, along with Clapper and Comey, delivered to President Barack Obama on Jan. 5, 2017.
According to Horowitz, former FBI Director James Comey said that Brennan and Clapper “thought it was important enough and consistent enough that it ought to be part of the package in some way, and so they had come up with this idea to make an [appendix].”
Brennan has claimed that he didn’t see the dossier until “later” in 2016. He also stated in his congressional testimony that the CIA didn’t rely on the Steele dossier and that it “was not in any way used as a basis for the intelligence community assessment that was done.”
However, this claim was countered during the July 16, 2018 testimony of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, when the following discussion took place regarding Brennan’s August 2016 briefing of then-Sen. Harry Reid:
Rep. Mark Meadows: “We have documents that would suggest that in that briefing the dossier was mentioned to Harry Reid and then, obviously, we’re going to have to have conversations. Does that surprise you that Director Brennan would be aware of [the dossier]?”
Lisa Page: “Yes, sir. Because with all due honesty, if Director Brennan – so we got that information from our source, right? The FBI got this information from our source. If the CIA had another source of that information, I am neither aware of that nor did the CIA provide it to us if they did.”