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On July 17, 2017, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) during the Obama Administration, testified at a session of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) read him two quotes from testimony the National Intelligence Officer (NIO*) for Russia had given when briefing the committee on December 5, 2016:
“In terms of favoring one candidate or another, you know, the evidence is a little bit unclear.”
“It’s unclear to us that the Kremlin had a particular – that they had a particular favorite or they wanted to see a particular outcome. That is what the reporting shows.” (pp16-17)
Yet on January 6, 2017 Clapper released the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian interference with the election which concluded, ” We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump“. Wenstrup asked if the statements made by the NIO on December 5 were accurate and complete. Clapper said no, they were not. Because of extensive redactions in the transcript that followed this exchange it is not possible to determine if Clapper offered an explanation as to why the assessment changed in the intervening month or, in the alternative, why a senior CIA official was giving inaccurate information to the Intelligence Committee.
Clapper also testified that the ICA didn’t talk about collusion because they didn’t have any evidence “that met the evidentiary threshold“(p.46), yet the FBI and DOJ had vouched for the reliability of the collusion allegations made in the Steele Dossier when officials from both agencies signed the Carter Page FISA warrant application in October 2016.
On June 22, 2017, Dan Coats, DNI testified. In March, after Coats’ confirmation, James Comey briefed him on collusion, telling Coats, “There is smoke but no fire on the issue of collusion” (p.6), “There is nothing to indicate collusion with the President” (p.27), and then adding:
“We are only looking at one person who had some role in the campaign [Carter Page]”. (p.6)
Yet the Crossfire Hurricane investigation specifically named four targeted individuals, Page, Papadopolous, Manafort, and Flynn, while the most recent FISA renewal application in January 2017 had referenced Papadopolous and Manafort, in addition to Page. Moreover, as was recently revealed, the investigation into Flynn was not closed as recommended in early January.
Andrew McCabe testified on December 19, 2017. Consistent with prior testimony given by Comey, McCabe stated that the FBI Director began writing memos of his meetings with Trump because of concerns about the frequency and content of his conversations with the President. However, Rep Gowdy pointed out that could not be true because Comey began writing memos right after his first meeting with Trump on January 6 – indeed Comey arranged in advance to have a setup in his car that would allow him to write a memo immediately upon ending his initial meeting with the President-elect. After that meeting, Comey told Clapper the “President-elect was very defensive about it” (Clapper interview p. 51), the “it” being the allegation he consorted with several prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room (I’m being circumspect here about the specifics of the allegation). Very clearly, Trump’s defensiveness (about an incident that never happened) was an indication of guilt in Comey’s mind.
Gowdy also asked why the FBI began drafting a non-indictment statement when Clinton and others were still to be interviewed in the email investigation; why wasn’t there also an indictment draft? McCabe stated there was no consideration given to drafting a statement regarding an indictment recommendation.
* National Intelligence Officers are appointed by the Director of the CIA, report directly to the Director, and are responsible for all intelligence matters within their geographical area.