CIA Director Gina Haspel said the spy agency would cooperate with the DOJ’s investigation, which is not a criminal inquiry, but that it would “protect sources and methods,” Sputnik reported. US President Donald Trump had previously directed the intelligence agencies to cooperate with the probe. That same order by Trump also gave Attorney General William Barr the power to declassify pertinent information.
The purpose of the investigation is to find the origins of the Russiagate investigation itself, particularly the monitoring of Trump’s 2016 campaign officials on suspicion of them having possible links to the Russian government. Barr characterized it as “spying” back in April, but FBI Director Christopher Wray pushed back, saying in May it was “surveillance activity.”
Some of the figures subjected to that “surveillance activity” included foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who were monitored based on warrants obtained via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Barr said in April he felt it was “important to look at” whether or not that monitoring was “adequately predicated.” His comments followed his release of a summary of then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the two-year Russiagate investigation. That investigation cleared Trump and his campaign of any collusion accusations - which both they and the Russian government had always denied - but it opened up the larger question as to what intelligence the investigation had been based on in the first place.
Aaron Maté, a journalist for The Grayzone and The Nation and a former host and producer at Democracy Now and The Real News, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear Friday that the investigation sends a “very clear message to John Brennan, the head the of CIA when all of this was happening.”
“We know now, from a report that was put out by the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee in early 2018, that basically John Brennan oversaw this entire process. John Brennan carefully controlled the process that led to the publication in early January 2017 of that intelligence community assessment, the one that basically pinned the blame on Russia for a sweeping interference campaign and said that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin had personally ordered it in order to elect Donald Trump.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Brennan from telling MSNBC's Chris Hayes this past January that he has never said that Trump’s "policy positions are the product, essentially, of some concealed relationship with the Russians." Just months earlier, he was denouncing Trump’s denials of collusion as “hogwash.”
“There was this fiction that this was the assessment of 17 US intelligence agencies, when actually no, only three US agencies were involved in that process: the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. But even to say that those three were involved is misleading, because we know that basically it was agents at the CIA - controlled by John Brennan - who wrote the report and who only consulted with their colleagues at the FBI and NSA.”
“John Brennan’s fingerprints are everywhere,” Maté told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.
While Maté said that a key tipoff for the DOJ’s investigation into suspected Trump team collusion with Russia coming from falsified Estonian intelligence given to the CIA was “speculation,” he noted that Brennan’s numerous other actions demonstrate his almost singular role in propelling the Russiagate investigation forward.
“In the summer of 2016, we have John Brennan meeting with a former counterpart at the MI6 - that was reported by [New Yorker writer] Jane Mayer - who reportedly raised with Brennan what [Christopher] Steele was looking into. We have John Brennan personally sending an envelope to President Obama asking it [the investigation] to be kept very close, keeping information out of the presidential daily briefings because he didn’t want it to get out. [We have] this claim that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered a campaign to elect Donald Trump,” Maté said. “He’s also talking to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and getting Harry Reid to spur action and even go public with his concerns.”
Maté also noted the contradiction highlighted in the New York Times’ article on the investigation of the CIA sending information to the FBI for its domestic investigation. The two agencies are intended to work in separate spheres: the CIA outside the US, and the FBI, which has law enforcement powers and is part of the DOJ, inside the country.
“Just right there, the fact that the CIA is so heavily involved, and John Brennan personally is even taking credit for being involved - I mean, he said in congressional testimony that it was his concerns that helped inform the initial FBI investigation - just means that there are many questions for him to answer,” Maté noted.
Even more, if the CIA had such a highly placed mole in the Kremlin as to be able to personally hear and relay Putin’s instructions to help Trump win in 2016 - which Brennan claimed as a major motivating force for the probe - why would the CIA destroy that source by publicly admitting it?
Maté noted that Papadopoulos being blamed for initiating the FBI probe was a narrative that only arose after the contents of the Steele Dossier were proven to be totally false.
“If that bears out, then basically, Papadopoulos was used as an excuse to justify what the FBI was already doing,” Maté told Sputnik, noting that it was based on supposition.