Damned close, it seems.
In early April, I posted on the famous January 6 meeting between James Comey and President Trump. The backstory was that numerous news organizations had received the Trump dossier by this time but they were all a bit squirrelly about publishing it without some official reason to do so. During the course of the meeting, Comey asked to speak to President Trump privately. In this meeting, Comey told Trump about the “good parts” of the dossier. On January 10, CNN reported that Trump had been briefed on the contents of the dossier.
Two interesting facts here. It was James Clapper who asked Comey to brief Trump on the dossier. At some point, Reince Priebus asked if there was anything they should know about. Logically, all the Russia related stuff in the dossier fits into that category. Comey says “no.” Which is probably the truth. He didn’t want the White House to know what was on the way.
More information has been released and more questions arise. Senator Ron Johnson has just sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray with a detailed timeline that looks ugly.
According to documents received by the Committee, the FBI appeared to have had awareness in January 2017 that media outlets had information about the Steele Dossier. It appears that then-FBI Director James Comey briefed then-President-elect Trump about this information, at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. According to the FBI, CNN then published its article using the President-elect briefing as the “trigger.”
- January 6, 2017, 9:44 a.m. FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki sent an email to unspecified recipients stating, “the director is coming into HQ briefly now for an update from the sensitive matter team.”
- January 6, 2017, afternoon. Director Comey met with President-elect Trump.
- January 7, 2017. Director Comey memorialized his discussion with President-elect Trump via an email to senior FBI leadership.4 Director Comey wrote, “I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to PE [President Elect] about alone or in a very small group.” Director Comey wrote, “I then executed the session exactly as I had planned,” and “I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook.”
- January 8, 2017, 12:08 p.m. Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe sent an email to senior FBI leadership with the subject line “Flood is coming. “ Mr. McCabe wrote, “CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story . … The trigger for them [CNN] is they know the material was discussed in the brief and presented in an attachment.”
- January 8, 2017, 12:55 p.m. Mr. McCabe emailed then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and then-Principal Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod with the subject line “News.”9 Mr. McCabe wrote, “Just an FYI, and as expected, it seems CNN is close to running a story about the sensitive reporting.”
- January 10, 2017. CNN published a story entitled “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” The article explained that the President-elect received the briefing on the contents of the Steele Dossier.
- January 10, 2017, 6:20 p.m. BuzzFeed News published the contents of the Steele Dossier.
Just a few thoughts here. The FBI had a high-level team, one that included the deputy director and chief of staff of the Bureau, looking at a “sensitive matter” in regards to Trump. Reading the January 6 and January 8 emails together, it is pretty clear that “sensitive matter” was code for “Russian hookers peeing on a mattress.” We know it does not refer to the dossier in general because the alleged Russian penetration of the Trump campaign was not discussed with Trump. Then the question arises of how did CNN learn what Comey talked to Trump about personally? Did Trump boast about it? Always possible. But the fact that McCabe, who was fired because of his unauthorized leaking and lying about it, is the guy bringing the news of the coming “flood,” makes it a solid bet that McCabe was the conduit to CNN. And one can’t help but note that Sally Yates was in on the shenanigans. This is a strong hint that Loretta Lynch knew and that there was White House involvement.
Then Senator Johnson asks for answers to several questions:
In order to assist the Committee in better understanding this sequence of events, please provide the following information and material:
- Please identify all members of the “sensitive matter team,” as referenced in Mr. Rybicki’s January 6th email.
- Please provide the date and circumstances by which the FBI first learned that media outlets, including CNN, may have possessed the Steele Dossier.
- Please produce any notes, memoranda or other written material created in preparation of briefing then-President-elect Trump about the Steel Dossier on January 6.
- Please produce all documents and communications between or among James Corney and James Clapper or their staffs referring or relating to Director Corney’s briefing President-elect Trump about the Steele Dossier.
- Please produce all documents and communications between or among FBI employees and other Executive Branch officials or employees referring or relating to the “sensitive matter” or to Director Corney’s communication to then-President-elect Trump about the existence of the Steele Dossier.
Please respond as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 4, 2018.
Senator Ron Johnson letter to the FBI regarding Steele dossier. Explosive new e-mails show FBI brass discussed dossier briefing details with CNN. FBI has a hell of a lot of explaining to do. https://t.co/sOlD7gkiHz pic.twitter.com/cUExt5GmgS
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) May 22, 2018
Sean Davis has a great write up at The Federalist. You should check it out.
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