FBI Memos Raise Deep Questions About Russia/Trump Intel Assessment
By Sara Carter | September 20, 2018 | 6:36 PM EDT
[*] In newly obtained emails, bureau officials noted there was not enough intelligence to support the January 2017 findings by the CIA
[*] New Strzok Texts: "I hope this upcoming presidency doesn't fill my years with regret wondering what we might have done differently."
The FBI had concerns with the intelligence community’s (IC) January 2017 assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the presidential election with the specific intent of electing President Trump over Hillary Clinton.
In newly obtained emails, bureau officials noted there was not enough intelligence to support the January 2017 findings by the CIA which concluded Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump, according to a numerous documents and text messages obtained by SaraACarter.com.
However, while Strzok, Comey and others were disputing the findings of former CIA Director John Brennan and former DNI Director James Clapper behind closed doors, the public perception was that the FBI agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment, as noted in news reports in late 2016 and early 2017.
Strzok, however, was a double-edged sword. Although he believed there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove Russia wanted Trump in office, text messages suggest he was still intent on proving that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. And while Comey also disagreed with the conclusion of the intelligence assessment, he– like Strzok–believed the unverified dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, should have been part of the Intelligence Community Assessment titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” There is no dispute that the Kremlin meddled in the elections, but the suggestion that it did so to aid Trump set off a wave of controversy for the past several years.
Then, the FBI waged a full investigation against the Trump campaign over an unverified dossier that alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but it was also assessing Russia’s intent on meddling in the election.
In December 2016 Strzok appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, along with some lawmakers, and expressed concern about the CIA assessment. Shortly after, on Dec. 10, 2016, the FBI received an email inquiry from a reporter asking if it was true that the FBI was uncertain about the CIA’s assessment that Russia was trying to help Trump win the election.
Strzok sent an email to the FBI press office stating, “We did not have information to differentiate what their ultimate goal was.” He noted that Comey gave the Senate Intelligence Committee the same answer.
“In other words, the activity is one-sided and clear but we can’t say the sole and primary purpose was specifically intended to help someone, hurt someone else or undermine the process. The reality is all three,” he said in the email.
When the declassified version of the IC Russia report was made public Jan. 6, 2017, the FBI had already addressed members of Congress, but it wouldn’t be until these emails and texts that the public would know the extent of the concerns.
Strzok’s texts and emails from December 2016 through January 2017 also suggest the FBI was deeply concerned about information being shared with other intelligence agencies, as well as with White House officials.
On Jan. 3, 2017 Strzok sent Lisa Page, his then-paramour and a former FBI lawyer, a text referencing a conversation he had with then-Assistant Director William Priestap, who was head of the counterintelligence division at the bureau. It would only be three days until IC leaders briefed Trump on the dossier and in the same time frame released its findings suggesting that Russia interfered into the election to assist Trump. The text messages were exchanged after 6:30 am just before Strzok and Page attended their routine morning FBI briefing.
“He, like us, is concerned with oversharing,” said Strzok. “Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts to WH (White House). All political just show our hand and potentially makes enemies.” It is not certain what Strzok means by ‘CR’ in this portion of the text.
“Yeah, but keep in mind we were going to put that in the doc on Friday, with potentially larger distribution than just the dni,” said Page in response.
Strzok responded, “the question is should we particularly to the entirety of the lame duck usic with partisan axes to grind.” USIC is in reference to the United States Intelligence Community. In previous text messages recovered by Congress, Strzok refers to a ‘sister’ agency and accused them of leaking to the press. Sister agency more than likely refers to the CIA, according to numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials. However, a slew of recently released text messages also suggest Strzok and Page were in communication with the press as well.
What needs to happen is an investigation outside the DOJ into this whole mess…
A former senior U.S. intelligence official told SaraACarter.com that Strzok, who was also “playing partisan politics was then worried that sharing information with the other agencies would be used by the Obama administration for political purposes is the real height of hypocrisy and his boss Comey was just the same. What needs to happen is an investigation outside the DOJ into this whole mess.”
The disagreement between the FBI and the Intelligence Community Assessment didn’t stop the FBI from wanting to attach the unverified dossier to the report. And that was disputed by James R. Clapper, then director of national intelligence, and then CIA Director John O. Brennan, who both objected stating that the dossier was unconfirmed information from a former British spy and not vetted U.S. intelligence.
Brennan has stated on the record that he did not see the dossier until December 2016. A spokesman for Brennan told this reporter in an interview earlier this year that “former FBI Director Comey has said publicly that he wanted to make sure President Obama and Trump knew about the dossier. Comey decided to attach it to the IC Assessment. There was even talk of including it as part of the IC Assessment but Brennan (and Clapper) in fact were the ones who didn’t allow the dossier to be part of it, and they didn’t allow that because they said the information wasn’t verified intelligence and that wasn’t what the IC Assessment was about.”
In early December 2016, Strzok and Page texted that there were some conflicts between classified intelligence and the information that was already in the hands of White House officials. And they were both concerned that information would leak.
“Man, our intel submission is going to be a BOMB,” said Strzok in a text on Dec. 18, 2016.
“Oh god, why do you say that?” said Page. “Was planning to try to go in early to reach it before our mtg with Jim,“ referencing the FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki.
“Oh it’s fine. You’ve heard it all. I’m just saying the C (classified) portion is absolutely different from the bulk of the stuff in the community. And the community and especially the WH will jump all over it since it’s what they WANT to say and they can attribute it to us, not themselves,” Strzok texted back. “All the benefit, none of the political risk. We get all of that.”
On December 19, 2016, Strzok and Page boast about the number of stories they had a hand in shaping. Page sends a text at 20:17 saying “And this. It will make your head spin to realize how many stories we played a personal role in. Sheesh, this has been quite a year… NYTimes: The most-read stories of 2016 (with a link).”
Strzok responds “Jesus, I want to take people out for a drink. I want to take YOU out for a drink. I hope this upcoming presidency doesn’t fill my years with regret wondering what we might have done differently.”
Then page responds to Strzok with a “sad” emoji face.
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