U.S. Attorney John Durham – charged with the criminal probe into the FBI’s Russia investigation of the Trump campaign – has been questioning CIA officials closely involved with John Brennan’s 2017 intelligence community assessment regarding direct Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to U.S. officials.
In May 2017, Brennan denied during a hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that its agency relied on the now debunked Christopher Steele dossier for the Intelligence Community Assessment report. He told then Congressman Trey Gowdy “we didn’t” use the Steele dossier.
“It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence information that we had,” Brennan stated. “It was not in any way used as a basis for the Intelligence Community assessment that was done. It was — it was not.”
However, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed in his report that the dossier was used in the Obama administration’s 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA). As stated in the IG report, there were discussions by top intelligence officials as to whether the Steele dossier should be included in the ICA report.
But upon careful inspection of Horowitz’s report, on page 179, investigators ask former FBI Director James Comey if he discussed the dossier with Brennan and whether or not it should be given to President Obama. According to the report, Comey told investigators that Brennan said it was “important” enough to include in the ICA — clearly part of the “corpus of intelligence information” they had.
According to a recent report by The New York Times, Durham’s probe is specifically looking at that January 2017 intelligence community assessment, which concluded with “high confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016.”
“Mr. Durham appears to be pursuing a theory that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result — and was nefariously trying to keep other agencies from seeing the full picture lest they interfere with that goal, the people said.”
Sources with knowledge have said CIA officials questioned by Durham’s investigative team
“are extremely concerned with the investigation and the direction it’s heading.”
Brennan’s assessment stated that Putin wanted to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” It also stated that Putin “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
But not everyone agreed with Brennan. The NSA then under retired Adm. Mike Rogers stated it only had “moderate confidence” that Putin tried to help Trump’s election. As stated in the New York times Durham is investigating whether Brennan was keeping other intelligence agencies out of the loop to keep his narrative that Putin was helping Trump’s campaign public.
“I wouldn’t call it a discrepancy, I’d call it an honest difference of opinion between three different organizations, and, in the end, I made that call,” Rogers told the Senate in May 2017. “It didn’t have the same level of sourcing and the same level of multiple sources.”
According to The Times Durham is reviewing emails from the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency analysts who worked on the January, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on Russia’s interference in the election.
Durham’s office could not be reached for comment. DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec also could not be reached for comment.
However, Brennan told MSNBC’s “Hardball” last week, that Durham’s questioning is dangerous.
“It’s kind of silly,” he said. “Is there a criminal investigation now on analytic judgments and the activities of C.I.A. in terms of trying to protect our national security? I’m certainly willing to talk to Mr. Durham or anybody else who has any questions about what we did during this period of 2016.”
Durham And FBI Spy Stefan Halper
Durham’s investigation appear to have many tentacles. For example, he has expanded his probe to the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. According to sources who spoke to SaraACarter.com he is carefully scrutinizing money paid through the office to former FBI confidential informant Cambridge academic Stefan Halper. Halper, who worked in previous U.S. administrations and is an academic, is connected to three of President Donald Trump’s campaign officials that were wrapped up into the FBI’s probe, most notably Carter Page.
Halper, along with others such as former MI6 Chief Sir Richard Dearlove, founded the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, in England at Cambridge University. According to several sources, Durham has questioned officials at the Office of Net Assessment about Halper’s contracts, how the money was utilized and what agency actually awarded the contract.
Further, Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is also investigating the over $1 million in contracts Halper received from the ONA, as first reported at SaraACarter.com. It is, of course, a separate investigation from Durham’s but on the same issues.
The Office Of Net Assessment, according to sources with knowledge, is sometimes used as a front to pay contractors, like Halper, who are conducting work for U.S. intelligence agencies. It is for this reason, that Durham is investigating the flow of money that Halper received and whether or not agencies other than the FBI were involved in the investigation into Trump’s campaign and whether or not, the contracts were accurately accounted for in the reports received by Grassley.
Durham’s criminal investigation into the FBI, CIA, as well as private entities is ongoing. Known by its acronym ONA, the secretive office is run by Director James Baker, who has been in the role since being appointed by the Obama Administration in 2015. In a January letter to Baker, Grassley asks a litany of questions as to Halper’s role within ONA, his contracts, his foreign contacts and whether the FBI, or CIA, used the ONA office to pay Halper for spying on Trump campaign personnel.
“Can ONA state for certain that Halper did not use taxpayer money provided by DoD to recruit, or attempt to recruit, sources for the FBI investigation into the now-debunked theory of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Grassley asks Baker.
But it is Halper’s role overseas and concern that the CIA may have been involved that is leading to more questions than answers.
In 2016, in what appeared to be an unexpected move, Halper left the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. He told papers in London – at the time – that it was due to “unacceptable Russian influence.”
Ironically, documents obtained by SaraACarter.com suggest that during Halper’s tenure with the seminar, he had also invited senior Russian intelligence officials to co-teach his course on several occasions. Further, according to news reports, he also accepted money to finance the course from a top Russian oligarch with ties to Putin.
Several course syllabi from 2012 and 2015 obtained by this outlet reveal Hapler had invited and co-taught his course on intelligence with the former Director of Russian Intelligence Gen. I. Vyacheslav Trubnikov.
Moreover, the New York Times recent report suggests that Durham’s probe into Brennan is also looking closely at an alleged secret source said to have direct ties to the Kremlin. It is not certain if the same secret Kremlin source discussed by Brennan is the same source used by Halper in his reports.
However, there is evidence that Halper had similar sources to former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier. Based on hand written notes from an interview the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec states two of Steele’s dossier sources; “Trubnikov” and “Surkov.”
Interesting, isn’t it.
Surkov is Vladislav Surkov, an aide of Vladimir Putin who is on the U.S.’s list of sanctioned individuals, and Trubnikov is none other than Vyacheslav Trubnikov. Trubnikov was the First Deputy of Foreign Minister of Russia and he formally served as the Director of Foreign Intelligence Service. He is also a source of Halper.