“Former CIA Director John Brennan’s insistence that the salacious and unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election is being contradicted by two top former officials.
Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the ICA. And James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the assessment was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations.
These accounts are at odds with Brennan’s May 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Steele dossier was “not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment” that Russia interfered in the election to help elect Donald Trump. Brennan has repeated this claim numerous times, including in February on “Meet the Press.”
In a March 5, 2018, letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Adm. Rogers informed the committee that a two-page summary of the dossier — described as “the Christopher Steele information” — was “added” as an “appendix to the ICA draft,” and that consideration of that appendix was “part of the overall ICA review/approval process.”
His skepticism of the dossier may explain why the NSA parted company with other intelligence agencies and cast doubt on one of its crucial conclusions: that Vladimir Putin personally ordered a cyberattack on Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Donald Trump win the White House.
Rogers has testified that while he was sure the Russians wanted to hurt Clinton, he wasn’t as confident as CIA and FBI officials that their actions were designed to help Trump, explaining that such an assessment “didn’t have the same level of sourcing and the same level of multiple sources.
(…) In another departure from custom, the report is missing any dissenting views or an annex with evaluations of the conclusions from outside reviewers. “Traditionally, controversial intelligence community assessments like this include dissenting views and the views of an outside review group,” said Fred Fleitz, who worked as a CIA analyst for 19 years and helped draft national intelligence estimates at Langley. “It also should have been thoroughly vetted with all relevant IC agencies,” he added. “Why were DHS and DIA excluded?”
Fleitz suggests that the Obama administration limited the number of players involved in the analysis to skew the results. He believes the process was “manipulated” to reach a “predetermined political conclusion” that the incoming Republican president was compromised by the Russians.