Former CIA director John Brennan accuses intel chief of selectively declassifying documents to help Trump

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brennan responded to Ratcliffe’s latest determination to declassify notes written by the previous CIA director in 2016 after he briefed then-President Barack Obama on intelligence associated to Russian safety service reporting that Clinton permitted “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

“John Ratcliffe is anything but an intelligence professional. It is appalling his selective declassification of information. It is designed to advance the political interests of Donald Trump and Republicans who are aligned with him,” Brennan stated of the director of nationwide intelligence.

“These were my notes from the 2016 period when I briefed President Obama and the rest of the national security council team about what the Russians were up to and I was giving examples of the type of access that the US intelligence community had to Russian information and what the Russians were talking about and alleging,” he added.

The former CIA director additionally pushed again on Ratcliffe’s declassification of a closely redacted CIA memo associated to the investigative referral forwarded to the FBI on the time. The memo notes that the Russians allege Clinton’s effort to fire up a scandal was “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”

“If, in fact, what the Russians were alleging that Hillary was trying to highlight the reported connections between Trump and the Russians, if that was accurate and a big if, there is nothing at all illegal about that,” Brennan stated.

“John Ratcliffe and others are trying to portray this as unlawful activity that deserves follow-up investigation by the FBI. No. It was a campaign activity,” he added.

Allies of the President have seized on the documents declassified by Ratcliffe, together with the discharge of Brennan’s notes and the CIA memo, as proof the FBI ought to examine unfounded claims that Clinton dedicated crimes in the course of the 2016 marketing campaign.

They have additionally cited the documents in an try to additional undermine the intelligence neighborhood’s unanimous evaluation that Russia interfered in 2016 to help Trump forward of the 2020 election — claiming, with out proof, that Clinton sought to manufacture a scandal to harm Trump.

On Tuesday, CNN confirmed that Ratcliffe declassified Brennan’s notes and the intelligence memo — a choice that comes one week after he launched a letter outlining the claims about Clinton coming from Russian intelligence companies.

Brennan’s notes and the CIA memo have been handed over to the Senate and House intelligence committees, a democratic congressional supply and Ratcliffe’s workplace confirmed to CNN after it was first reported Tuesday by Fox News.

In a press release to CNN, Ratcliffe stated he declassified the documents at “the direction of President Trump.”

“Today, at the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relevant to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities,” it stated.

Trump on Tuesday night tweeted in regards to the Russia investigation, vowing to declassify all associated supplies and documents “pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal.”

That message got here throughout a Twitter spree attacking former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former particular counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI, the place Trump stated he’ll declassify the documents with “no redactions.” Trump was quote-tweeting Paul Sperry, a conservative journalist and fellow on the Hoover establishment, who wrote that if the documents have been declassified, it will present that “the FBI and CIA not only knew the Russia ‘collusion’ allegations against Trump were a political dirty trick, but that they were in on the trick.”

Yet in a later tweet, Trump stated he already had declassified all of the related intelligence — however it was unclear what he was referring to past the documents launched by Ratcliffe in latest days.

But Brennan informed CNN Tuesday that the memo declassified by Ratcliffe, which he characterised as a Counterintelligence Operational Lead (CIOL), is only one of a number of documents that have been despatched to the FBI associated to Russian exercise in the course of the 2016 race.

“There are a lot of other CIOLs that talk about the contacts that were taking place between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians. So he might want to think about trying to balance some of these releases by providing information to the American public about what the intelligence community had unearthed during this period of time about Russia’s interactions with those involved in the Trump campaign,” he stated.

Last week, CNN reported that Ratcliffe declassified unverified Russian intelligence regardless of considerations being raised by the CIA and National Security Agency, in accordance to individuals briefed on the matter.

Career officers within the intelligence businesses have been involved about declassifying the knowledge as a result of it was unverified and so they believed it may reveal sources and strategies. Ratcliffe overrode these considerations and despatched the doc to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, the individuals stated.

That declassified doc, which features a Russian intelligence evaluation from 2016 that Hillary Clinton had permitted a marketing campaign plan to “stir up a scandal” in opposition to then-candidate Trump by tying him to Russia and the hack of the Democratic National Committee, has sparked expenses from Democrats and former intelligence officers that Ratcliffe was politicizing intelligence and sharing Russian disinformation.

It was the newest in a string of declassified documents Ratcliffe and Attorney General William Barr have supplied to Senate Republicans and others concentrating on the FBI’s Russia investigation forward of the November election.

Ratcliffe famous within the abstract he supplied to Graham that the intelligence neighborhood “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”

Ratcliffe later issued a clarifying assertion that the knowledge “is not Russian disinformation.” But a number of intelligence and regulation enforcement officers say the likelihood that it’s disinformation hasn’t been dominated out by the intelligence businesses.

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