Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, before the House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigation Task Force. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The finger pointing back and forth between former FBI head James Comey and former CIA head John Brennan over who made the decision to include Christopher Steele’s high school burn-book dossier in the request for a FISA warrant against Carter Page has been, admittedly, a bit delicious to watch.
Now, due to another inquiry Attorney General William Barr mentioned in a recent interview, there may be another reason for the former intelligence heads to throw each other under the bus. And it concerns that other Trump Tower meeting and the growing list of leaks of classified information to the press since Trump entered office.
While most people are familiar with the Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr. and a Russian lawyer, the other meeting, where Comey, Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed Trump on Russian interference in the 2016 election, with Comey detailing some of the more salacious allegations in the dossier, could be more consequential.
The meeting between Trump, Comey, and other top intelligence officials took place on Jan. 6, 2017, and it was quickly leaked to the press. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and Comey briefed Trump on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, but Comey stayed behind after the meeting to tell Trump about some of the dossier’s claims. Days later, on the afternoon of Jan. 10, 2017, CNN ran a story about the meeting titled “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” Later that evening, BuzzFeed posted Steele’s dossier online with the title “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.”
While demurring on what questions he had about the January 2017 meeting, Barr emphasized that “it’s one of the things we need to look at.”
“We’re still at the stage of gathering all the information,” Barr added.
In Barr’s interview with Fox, the AG states that the meeting is partly under a microscope because of the nature of the information contained within the dossier itself.
“It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that, on its face, had a number of clear mistakes and in a somewhat jejune analysis,” Barr said. “And to, and to use that, take it to conduct counterintelligence against an American political campaign is a strange—would be a strange development.”
Even stranger is that the meeting discussing that dossier with the president and the contents of the dossier itself ended up reported on at huge news outlets like CNN, and later published at Buzzfeed.
So how did those news outlets come by their information? It’s been reported that the FBI had concerns that Comey could appear to be blackmailing Trump at that meeting — which is just another way of priming the narrative pump by suggesting Comey is a better fit as the source of the leaks. And the Trump administration has been beset by leaks almost since day one.
But the answering the question of whether Comey, Brennan, or Clapper orchestrated the leak of the other Trump Tower meeting almost immediately to the press is really not the goal. The goal is to finally get these guys to start turning on each other so the chess master can be revealed. And indictments, should Barr et al wish to pursue them, can begin.