US Intel Flagged Alleged Clinton Campaign Plan To Link Trump To Russian Hacking, Intel Chief Says

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by Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller:

  • John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said in a letter released Tuesday that the intelligence community sent an investigative referral to the FBI in September 2016 over an alleged plan by the Clinton campaign to link Donald Trump to Russia’s election-meddling efforts.
  • Ratcliffe also revealed in the letter that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA, wrote of the Clinton plan in his notes in July 2016. 
  • Russian intelligence may also have been aware of the Clinton campaign’s plan, according to Ratcliffe. 

U.S. intelligence officials submitted an investigative referral to the FBI in September 2016 regarding an alleged plan by Hillary Clinton to link Donald Trump to Russia’s election interference efforts, according to John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence.

Ratcliffe noted in the letter, which he sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, that U.S. intelligence is not certain whether the allegation underlying the referral was based on fabrications from Russian intelligence agencies.

Ratcliffe said in the letter that on Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded a referral for an investigation regarding Clinton to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, the deputy chief of counterintelligence.

Ratcliffe quotes the referral as dealing with Clinton’s “approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” (RELATED: 10 Questions James Comey Could Face In His Senate Hearing)

It is unclear who submitted the referral to the FBI and whether the bureau opened an investigation into the matter. The letter does not say that the investigation was criminal in nature, or directly focused on Clinton. It also does not describe the information underlying the Clinton referral or the alleged plan to target Trump.

Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The FBI did not respond to requests for comment.

Clinton’s campaign authorized hiring an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to investigate Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Fusion in turn hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier that accused the Trump campaign of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

While the Russian government hacked emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign, the special counsel’s office determined that nobody on the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin.

Key allegations in Steele’s dossier remain either uncorroborated or have been debunked. A Justice Department inspector general’s report said that the FBI received evidence in early 2017 that Russian intelligence officers may have fed disinformation into the dossier.

Last week, Graham released a declassified FBI memo which said that the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation in 2009 against Igor Danchenko, the primary source for Christopher Steele.

The FBI relied heavily on the dossier to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Carter Page.

According to Ratcliffe, U.S. intelligence agencies in late July 2016 “obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis” which alleged that Clinton had approved a campaign to link Trump to Russia’s hack of the DNC.

“The [Intelligence Community] does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication,” Ratcliffe wrote.

The letter does not make it clear whether the term “Russian intelligence analysis” refers to intelligence activities conducted by the U.S. or by Russia.

According to Ratcliffe, former CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama in late July 2016 about Clinton’s approval of a plan to link Trump to Russia’s election-meddling efforts.

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