Editor’s note: this article by investigative reporter Paul Sperry originally appeared in RealClearInvestigations. It cites Center for Security Policy President Fred Fleitz who broke this story last April in Fox News Opinion.
Former CIA Director John Brennan personally edited a crucial section of the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and assigned a political ally to take a lead role in writing it after career analysts disputed Brennan’s take that Russian leader Vladimir Putin intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump clinch the White House, according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials who have seen classified materials detailing Brennan’s role in drafting the document.
The explosive conclusion Brennan inserted into the report was used to help justify continuing the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation, which had been launched by the FBI in 2016. It was picked up after the election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in the end found no proof that Trump or his campaign conspired with Moscow.
The Obama administration publicly released a declassified version of the report — known as the “Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent Elections (ICA)” — just two weeks before Trump took office, casting a cloud of suspicion over his presidency. Democrats and national media have cited the report to suggest Russia influenced the 2016 outcome and warn that Putin is likely meddling again to reelect Trump.
The ICA is a key focus of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing investigation into the origins of the “collusion” probe. He wants to know if the intelligence findings were juiced for political purposes.
RealClearInvestigations has learned that one of the CIA operatives who helped Brennan draft the ICA, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, financially supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign and is a close colleague of Eric Ciaramella, identified last year by RCI as the Democratic national security “whistleblower” whose complaint led to Trump’s impeachment, ending in Senate acquittal in January.
The two officials said Brennan, who openly supported Clinton during the campaign, excluded conflicting evidence about Putin’s motives from the report, despite objections from some intelligence analysts who argued Putin counted on Clinton winning the election and viewed Trump as a “wild card.”
The dissenting analysts found that Moscow preferred Clinton because it judged she would work with its leaders, whereas it worried Trump would be too unpredictable. As secretary of state, Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Moscow to move them to a more positive and cooperative stage, while Trump campaigned on expanding the U.S. military, which Moscow perceived as a threat.
These same analysts argued the Kremlin was generally trying to sow discord and disrupt the American democratic process during the 2016 election cycle. They also noted that Russia tried to interfere in the 2008 and 2012 races, many years before Trump threw his hat in the ring.
“They complained Brennan took a thesis [that Putin supported Trump] and decided he was going to ignore dissenting data and exaggerate the importance of that conclusion, even though they said it didn’t have any real substance behind it,” said a senior U.S intelligence official who participated in a 2018 review of the spycraft behind the assessment, which President Obama ordered after the 2016 election.
He elaborated that the analysts said they also came under political pressure to back Brennan’s judgment that Putin personally ordered “active measures” against the Clinton campaign to throw the election to Trump, even though the underlying intelligence was “weak.”