How Did the IC Allegedly Remain Unaware of a Dossier Widely Shopped in DC?

Donald Trump spent yesterday and today going nuts because of the leak of the oppo research dossier. In response last night, James Clapper (who must be counting the seconds until he’s out of here at this point) spoke to Trump personally, then released a statement revealing what he had said. The statement reads:

This evening, I had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss recent media reports about our briefing last Friday. I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.

We also discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even before the IC became aware of it. I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.

President-elect Trump again affirmed his appreciation for all the men and women serving in the Intelligence Community, and I assured him that the IC stands ready to serve his Administration and the American people.

While most have focused on the seeming confirmation that a summary of the dossier was included in Trump’s briefing on Friday, I’m most interested in the claim (one I don’t entirely believe) that the IC did not learn about this dossier until after the dossier “was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff.”

According to one public claim, the IC learned of the dossier sometime before a late October briefing to the Gang of Eight, one that led Harry Reid to complain publicly that the FBI Was sitting on explosive information.

During that period, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, wrote to the director of the FBI, accusing him of holding back “explosive information” about Mr Trump.

Mr Reid sent his letter after getting an intelligence briefing, along with other senior figures in Congress. Only eight people were present: the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress, the “gang of eight” as they are sometimes called. Normally, senior staff attend “gang of eight” intelligence briefings, but not this time. The Congressional leaders were not even allowed to take notes.

According to another claim — one backed by an on-the-record statement — McCain formally told Comey about the dossier on December 9 (which is the day leakapalooza started).

But I find it really hard to believe that Christopher Steele (the former MI6 officer who created the dossier) was shopping its contents for months without the IC asking some questions. And if it’s true, it means the dossier is entirely separate from the FISA warrant first sought in June.

Not to mention the fact, ODNI seems to be disclaiming IC involvement in things that antagonize Trump right now in ways I find really unconvincing, particularly with respect to CIA.

Ah well. The Intelligence Community. Always the last to know.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

27 replies
  1. Ed Walker says:

    re: Clapper statement

    1. the disclosure of the report is not the problem. The problem is Trump’s repulsive behavior. Even if the information about the Moscow hotel is false, it’s just like Dan Quayle and the misspelling of potatoes. It confirms what everyone thinks about that guy.

    2. Clapper’s statement shows the difference in intellectual skill  between himself and Trump. Clapper did a nice job of forcing Trump to at least momentarily affirming the importance of the IC. He also essentially forces Trump off the possibility of blaming the IC for the leak.

    • FormerMilitary says:

      Seems a bit of a distraction, swirl up angst and anger on things that are not new:

      -Trump’s “character” is questionable, no surprise there.

      -Trump is beyond shaming (not likely a blackmail candidate unless little boys were involved).

      He was elected after we all heard him bragging about grabbing pu$$ies.  Which is hard to even write, but speaks to the very fact he highlighted “that he could kill somebody and would still be elected.”

      Leaks that suggest he is the person we thought he was before he was voted into office only highlight how much of an F-U vote to the “establishment” he really was.  These leaks seem to be an attempt to keep the anger/vitriol alive and possibly force Trump to distance himself from Putin or be called into question about the leaks validity…is he being controlled by the big bad bear?  Lions and tigers and bears oh my.

  2. lefty665 says:

    Isn’t this the same James Clapper who testified under oath “No” when the answer was “Yes” then defended it later as “The closest I could come to the truth under the circumstances”?

    Interesting on the FISA warrant. Be nice to learn more about that.

    “Ah well. The Intelligence Community. Always the last to know.” Poor babies, everybody always keeps them in the dark.

     

    • Bill Michtom says:

      “I assured him that the IC stands ready to serve his Administration and the American people.”

       

      Another classic oxymoron.

  3. JerryN says:

    FWIW, the Guardian reported that Steele gave his contacts in the FBI a copy sometime in July / August, it’s the earliest date that I’ve seen.

    • Pete says:

      McCain did too.  Can’t recall the date.  Maybe the FBI is not part of the IC community.

      My goodness – what a clown show.

      Pete

      • Evangelista says:

        And the REAL WINNER is:

        Bill Cosby!  The evidence in whose trial(s), provided by the same underlying targeting group(s) and, in both cases a ‘specialty’ with them, is, as the Trump Attack instance of the ‘technique’ s use continues to draw investigative focus, being more and more revealed, more and more precisely defined for what it is, and more and more perfectly framed in frame and as frame…

        [Over use can cook the goose of even the oldest, most tried and true, ironclad and trustworthy defamation abuse…]

          • Desider says:

            Godwin’s 2nd law – half of the blinkered discussions on the internet will end with an unrelated reference to Bill Cosby – but which half, we can’t predict!

        • bmaz says:

          To both Pete and SLF: From my interaction with them, the FBI has been part of the “IC” since well  before September 11, 2001. The interaction with DEA, CIA and other IC members was unmistakable, even if not popularly discussed. After, 9/11, it is not even a question really. Their NSD direction from DOJ, and even, when so directed, field and foreign offices, are absolutely participants. Somewhat ironically, FBI today is weakened in what you and I (I think both of us anyway) think is their core domestic mission in hard favor of IC/terrorism duties.

          I’d go so far as to say this is a pretty problematic thing. But that is just me.

  4. Les says:

    It was originally pushed on the intelligence services by Harry Reid.    One of the news articles contains a timeline.  Reid may have been frustrated by the FBI, especially after they sought out wiretaps on the Trump team.

  5. greengiant says:

    There are more facts indicating the Russian mob and salafists have penetrated the FBI,  the CIA and Wall Street that the media ignores.

    They call  oppo research slime for a reason,  it does not stick.   Any energy directed at the hysteria no matter how entertaining is energy not used at digging out real Trump crimes or vetting the incoming nominees.   Trump at best is a lying narcissist who has ruined countless lives.   Now we live in a psych experiment seeing how people will let their emotions detonate their principles,  logic and energy.

    Clapper’s statement does NOT indicate Trump lied.   Clapper’s statement gives a fig leaf of cover by not denying the “official” leaks,  ( lies or not) to the media that Trump was briefed at the Friday meeting in contrast to the “senior official” leak that they brought the appendix to Trump but did not discuss it at that time.

    Looks as if Trump’s impeachment battle will be in the House,   if it gets to the Senate it is looking as if he would be convicted.   Just what we need for an epitath.    Distracted by a Buzzfeed dump for weeks in January.   Maybe a few more people will understand how the media outlets are owned.

     

  6. bevin says:

    “..Looks as if Trump’s impeachment battle will be in the House, …”

    On what grounds? A lot of people don’t like Trump. And that is good. It is better that people be sceptical of an incoming President than starry eyed and self deluded. But this is not scepticism that we see, it is snobbery of the sort that swept over Washington when Jackson and his wife arrived there.

    It is perfectly possible that the Senate, as corrupt and unprincipled a group as any in history, would find Trump guilty but if they do so without good reason you and they can kiss goodbye to the Republic. The high crimes in recent years have been obvious enough-from the lies about Iraq to the vast subsidies handed over to the banks to the repeated wars of aggression- but Trump can be blamed for none of them.

    This idea that the Steele dossier is anything more than a tissue of slanders-opposition research!- is not one that can be allowed to stand without real proof. And there can be none of that as the nature of the charges makes clear.

    It is time to settle down and work out what you want Trump to do and then how to make him do it. It will involve re-connecting with the working class, putting aside Obama’s neo-liberal falsifications regarding the labour market (every teenager in America knows better) and facing up to Taft Hartley, 70 years old and still lowering living standards. It might even help to come up with a platform and a strategy for winning local, state and national elections too- russophobia didn’t work.

    Maybe you can get rid of Trump on the grounds of his vulgarity, sexual predilections and small glove size but millions of Americans, voters and non voters alike will demand to know why: unpopular the President elect may be but he is a chart topper compared with the way that people feel about the Senate and House.

  7. Bob In Portland says:

    This isn’t quite off-topic, but since this whole exercise is about the Deep State blackmailing Trump, what are they blackmailing him about? Will he be on their side in the never ending class struggle? No, he’s ready to privatize the government and maybe get his cut. What about healthcare? Trump doesn’t seem to give a shit about people’s concerns, and he’s not talking up single payer. What does the Deep State want that Trump isn’t offering them?

    How about a war with Russia? Has anyone asked themselves why every one of Trump’s appointees is made to swear that Russia is dangerous? Has anyone thought, “Gee, the stuff they’re saying about Putin is the same thing that they said about Assad, Ghadafy, Saddam, the Ayatollah, Daniel Ortega, Allende, the guy in Guatemala, Mossadegh, the guy on that island holding medical students hostage, Castro, Ho Chi Minh?”

    Really, folks, what could go wrong with a war against Russia? Can you hear the drums?

    • Sundog says:

      It doesn’t matter. President Obama has a real birth certificate, but that didn’t stop the nut jobs from believing he was from Kenya.

  8. GKJames says:

    In this clown-show environment, how are serious policy makers, assuming there still are some, supposed to accept the credibility of information and analysis provided by the IC?

  9. Bob In Portland says:

    Remember when the DNC first “learned” of being “hacked”? Back in the summer, and they wouldn’t let the FBI look at their system then, but instead waited for CrowdStrike’s report? As if the FBI weren’t part of the intelligence operation. DNC’s refusal to allow the FBI, if what the media claims about the FBI is true (pro-Republican, excluded from the hack investigations) then it’s understandable that the DNC didn’t want the FBI to be poking around their okeydoke.

    CrowdStrike equals Dmitri Alperovitch equals The Atlantic Council, which equals the cold, cold warriors who really, really want to start a war with Russia. Then there is Alexandra Chalupa, within the Clinton campaign, and all those Ukrainian hackers and PropOrNot fascists orbiting them. Keeping the FBI away keeps the FBI away from the Ukrainian computer folks operating in coordination with the DNC.

    So when Trump says that Clinton was behind it he’s partly right. It was the DNC, trying to preserve this okeydoke.  This was probably developed to be presented after Hilz was elected, to help pave our way into the next war, against Russia.

  10. Teddy says:

    Gosh! Who in this tale has the best press relations?

    Ace. It’s always Ace. He tells Comey on 12/9, presumably gets the brush-off (“Yeah, we know all about that crap, Senator McCain….”) and then calls a press buddy.

    Of which we know he has many. If you think McCain doesn’t have BuzzFeed on speed-dial, you don’t know Meghan.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, but you have to give McCain credit, after several decades, he learned how to let others crash and burn on the carrier decks.

      Progress!

  11. Evangelista says:

    Can’t reply to you, bmaz; a bug in your board; recurrent; peculiar…

    The business of enlisting pliable broads to claim ‘sexual predation’ against males who have irritated powers inclined to use that, and corrupt elements in corrupt if not owned and so when-convenient-Sunday-School-puritanist legal legal and media systems is hoary-old, a stand-by for those who use that method. The complaining-broads assault against Cosby was inevitable from the time he defended Martha Stewart when those powers were behind the ‘virtuous-powers-of-the-Market’ assault against her (that put her in jail for non-crimes painted up as “crimes”, that have no comparison to what was done leading to and from 2007/8). The only question was when, and how, those powers would “express their displeasure” atCosby. For history, review their attack against Joseph Kennedy many decades ago, their post-mortem equivalent against John F. (unlikely because he certainly knew of their predilection from his pa), and against others through the years, including Trump (who also knows their predilection), in the ‘Trump tape episode’ and yet again in the latest equally lame, and unlikely creation. Note that these people ‘own’ (or are) the “Russian Mafia”, too, and own the FBI (have since Hoover, who was partial to their methods, too).
    Note that the word “broad” used here is their word, and the word means “a sleazy type of human female who is willing to lie and engage in, and participate in, sleazy scams and scamming. Note, too, that women who do not engage in such behaviors are the biggest losers as result of “broad” behavior and activities, which taints the integrity of the whole sex.
    Less confused now, I hope, and able to make the jump to recognize the connection ??

  12. Evangelista says:

    Marcy,

    The IC does not include the FBI, who is “Law Enforcement” and Domestic and would be responsible (if they were responsible) for vetting ‘domestic’ relevant allegations, as accusations against Trump brought forward in an election would be.  As the accusations were not brought forward, and the matter was an election, the FBI would have some excuse to avoid any action, including vetting.  The IC is not domestically oriented, and, in the case of the CIA, is explicitly not to engage in domestic activities, and would not be following Trump, or any candidate, around snooping for rumors.

    “Domestic Intelligence” activiy claims are usually made by private (and pseudo-private other-state-connected) agencies (see JDL and ADL, who work for Israel and Zionism, under a ‘cover’ of working for Jews).

    Thus, it is not surprising that the IC paid no attention to rumors against Trump until Trump became a State Actor, and the rumors came to be pushed to and noto the surface.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, I see, the FBI has no part whatsoever to do with the IC, eh?

      That is just patently uninformed. Or willfully dishonest.

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