BuzzFeed's post-election decision to publish the Clinton-Steele dossier may have been the single biggest blow to Team Coup. Because every piece of evidence shows that the piece of Clinton opposition research was the whole basis for the Russia conspiracy theory. Everything from the original eavesdropping on Trump associates to the Mueller investigation are the fruits of that poisoned tree.
And, as Paul Sperry's latest investigative piece shows, that includes the intelligence community.
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.
The dossier, which is made up of 16 opposition research-style memos on Trump underwritten by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s own campaign, is based mostly on uncorroborated third-hand sources. Still, the ICA has been viewed by much of the Washington establishment as the unimpeachable consensus of the U.S. intelligence community. Its conclusions that “Vladimir Putin ordered” the hacking and leaking of Clinton campaign emails “to help Trump’s chances of victory” have driven the “Russia collusion” narrative and subsequent investigations besieging the Trump presidency.
Except that the ICA process was badly tainted, in ways that Paul goes into at greater length, but the key point here is that...
Except that the ICA did not reflect the consensus of the intelligence community. Clapper broke with tradition and decided not to put the assessment out to all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies for review. Instead, he limited input to a couple dozen chosen analysts from just three agencies — the CIA, NSA and FBI. Agencies with relevant expertise on Russia, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department’s intelligence bureau, were excluded from the process...
A source close to the House investigation said Brennan himself selected the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, and that they included former FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok.
“Strzok was the intermediary between Brennan and [former FBI Director James] Comey, and he was one of the authors of the ICA,” according to the source.
So we have Clinton opposition research being rolled into an ICA which was limited to a handful of people who would have the right opinions.
The ICA was presented as the gold standard. But like everything else in this process, it was really fool's gold.
And what really happened is that Hillary Clinton's political allies took her opposition research and treated it as the basis for an official assessment.