Skip to comments.In Final Days, Trump Gave Up On Releasing Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says
Posted on 02/26/2021 7:35:08 AM PST by Kaslin
The House Intelligence Committee's Kash Patel said senior intelligence officials 'continuously impeded' their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material.
After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.
Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials “continuously impeded” their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents.
Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work.
“I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,” Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump’s term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).
Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.
Although a Department of Justice inspector general’s report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.
Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin’s orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.
Patel’s work on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of its former Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is widely credited with exposing the FBI’s reliance on Steele and misrepresentations to the FISA court. Yet congressional Democrats and major media outlets portrayed him as a behind-the-scenes saboteur who sought to “discredit” the Russia investigation.
The media vitriol unnerved Patel, who had previously served as a national security official in the Obama-era Justice Department and Pentagon – a tenure that exceeds his time working under Trump. Patel says that ensuring public disclosure of critical information in such a consequential national security investigation motivated him to take the job in the first place.
“The agreement I made with Devin, I said, ‘Okay, I don’t really want to go to the Hill, but I’ll do the job on one basis: accountability and disclosure,” Patel said. “Everything we find, I don’t care if it’s good or bad or whatever, from your political perspective, we put it out.’ So the American public can just read it themselves, with a few protections here and there for some certain national security measures, but those are minimal redactions.”
That task proved difficult. The House Intelligence Committee’s disclosure efforts, Patel said, “were continuously impeded by members of the intelligence community themselves, with the same singular epithets that you’re going to harm sources and methods. … And I just highlight that because, we didn’t lose a single source. We didn’t lose a single relationship, and no one died by the public disclosures we made because we did it in a systematic and professional fashion.”
“But each time we forced them to produce [documents],” Patel added, “it only showed their coverup and embarrassment.” These key revelations he helped expose include Justice official Bruce Ohr’s admission that he acted as a liaison to Steele even after the FBI officially terminated him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s false statements about leaks related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the FBI’s reliance on the Steele dossier to spy on Page. “There is actually a law that prevents the FBI and DOJ from failing to disclose material to a court just to hide an embarrassment or mistake, and it came up during our investigation. It helped us compel disclosure.”
For Patel, a key document that remains hidden from the public is the full report he helped prepare and which Trump chose not to declassify after pressure from the intelligence community: The House Intelligence Committee report about the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).
The ICA is a foundational Russiagate document. Released just two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, it asserted that Russia waged an interference campaign to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread media accounts that the ICA reflected the consensus view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, it was a rushed job completed in a few weeks by a small group of CIA analysts led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who merely consulted with FBI and NSA counterparts. The NSA even dissented from a key judgment that Russia and Putin specifically aimed to help install Trump, expressing only “moderate confidence.”
The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from “significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments.”
Along with that March 2018 report, Patel and his intelligence committee colleagues produced a still-classified document that fleshed out the ICA’s “tradecraft failings” in greater detail.
“We went and looked at it [the ICA], and looked at the underlying evidence and cables, and talked to the people who did it,” Patel says. According to Patel, the ICA’s flaws begin with the unprecedentedly short window of time in which it was produced during the final days of the Obama White House. “In two to three weeks, you can’t have a comprehensive investigation of anything, in terms of interference and cybersecurity matters.”
Patel said that still classified information undermines another key claim – that Russia ordered a cyber-hacking campaign to help Trump. The March 2018 House report noted that the ICA’s judgments, “particularly on the cyber intrusion sections, employed appropriate caveats on sources and identified assumptions,” but those were drowned out by partisan insistence that Russia was the culprit.
Constrained from discussing the material, Patel said its release “would lend a lot of credence to” skepticism about the Mueller report’s claim that Russia waged a “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign to install Trump.
That skepticism was bolstered in July 2019 when the Mueller team was reprimanded by a U.S. District judge for falsely suggesting in its final report that a Russian social media firm acted in concert with the Kremlin. (Mueller’s prosecutors later dropped the case against the outfit.)
“We had multiple versions, with redactions, at different levels of classifications we were willing to release,” Patel said.”But that was unfortunately the one report, which speaks directly to [an absence of concrete evidence] that’s still sitting in a safe, classified. And unfortunately, the American public – unless Biden acts – won’t see it.”
Confirming earlier media reports from late last year, Patel says it was Trump’s CIA Director Gina Haspel who personally thwarted the House report’s release. The report sits in a safe at CIA headquarters in Langley. “The CIA has possession of it, and POTUS chose not to put it out,” Patel says. He does not know why.
Another key set of documents that the public has yet to see are reports by Democratic National Committee cyber-contractor CrowdStrike – reports the FBI relied on to accuse Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee. The FBI bowed to the DNC’s refusal to hand over its servers for analysis, a decision that Patel finds “outrageous.”
“The FBI, who are the experts in looking at servers and exploiting this information so that the intelligence community can digest it and understand what happened, did not have access to the DNC servers in their entirety,” Patel said. “For some outrageous reason the FBI agreed to having CrowdStrike be the referee as to what it could and could not exploit, and could and could not look at.”
According Patel, Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry, a former top FBI official under Mueller, “totally took advantage of the situation to the unfortunate shortcoming of the American public.”
CrowdStrike’s credibility suffered a major blow in May 2020 with the disclosure of an explosive admission from Henry that had been kept under wraps for nearly three years. In December 2017 testimony before the House Intel Committee showed he had acknowledged that his firm “did not have concrete evidence” that Russian hackers removed any data, including private emails, from the DNC servers.
“We wanted those depositions declassified immediately after we took them,” Patel recalled. But the committee was “thwarted,” he says, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under Dan Coats, and later by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff once Democrats took control of Congress in January 2018. According to Patel, Schiff “didn’t want some of these transcripts to come out. And that was just extremely frustrating.” Working with Coats’ successor, Richard Grenell, Patel ultimately forced the release of the Henry transcript and dozens of others last year.
Still classified, however, are the full CrowdStrike reports relied on by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Patel said their release would underscore Henry’s admission while raising new questions about why the government used reports from DNC contractors – the other being Fusion GPS’ Steele dossier – for a consequential national security case involving a rival Republican campaign.
The CIA relied on another questionable source for its assertion that Putin personally ordered and orchestrated an interference campaign to elect Trump: a purported mole inside the Kremlin. The mole has been outed as Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Kremlin official who fled Russia in 2017 for the United States where he lives under his own name. According to the New York Times, some CIA officials harbored doubts about Smolenkov’s “trustworthiness.”
Patel said he could not comment on whether he believes Smolenkov relayed credible information to the CIA. “I’m sort of in a bind on this one, still, with all the classified information I looked at, and the declassifications we’ve requested, but have not yet been granted.”
Patel did suggest, however, that those who have raised skepticism about the CIA’s reliance on Smolenkov are “rightly” trying to “get to the bottom” of the story. “But until that ICA product that we created, and some of the other documents are finally revealed – if I start talking about them, then I’m probably going to get the FBI knocking at my door.”
On his last full day in office, President Trump ordered the declassification of an additional binder of material from the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia probe, Crossfire Hurricane. A source familiar with the documents covered under the declassification order confirmed to RealClearInvestigations that it does not contain the House committee’s assessment of the January 2017 that Patel wants released. Nor does it contain any of the CrowdStrike reports used by the FBI.
In addition to those closely guarded documents, Patel thinks that there is even more to learn about the fraudulent surveillance warrants on Carter Page. The public should see “the entire subject portion” of the final Carter Page FISA warrant, Patel said, as well as “the underlying source verification reporting” in which the FBI tried to justify it, despite relying on the Steele dossier.
By reading what the FBI “used to prop up that FISA, the American public can see what a bunch of malarkey it was that they were relying on,” Patel added. “The American public needs to know about and read for themselves and make their own determination as to why their government allowed this to happen. Knowingly.”
“And that’s not castigating an entire agency,” he continued. “We’re not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok [the FBI agent dismissed, in part, because of anti-Trump bias] and his crew of miscreants. Same thing goes for the intelligence community. If they did some shoddy tradecraft, the American public has a right to know about it in an investigation involving the presidential election.”
This article is republished from RealClearInvestigations, with permission.
Or, he’s holding on to them for the midterms?
Despite this disappointment, some loons believe DJT is currently secretly directing the military in an effort to regain the presidency.
Unfortunately, the only way things could be released would be to demand they be brought to his office physically. And them personally release them. But even that probably wouldn’t work, they would not obey a direct order to bring them to his office even I would expect.
The fact is, he was alone in the White House, with only a handful of trustworthy people. And the entire White House was infested with FBI, CIA, the department of defense spies aligned against him.
Trump is a national hero for exposing the level of corruption in DC.
I suppose we’ll find out.
Times like this I wish FR had aq laugh react emoji. He had 4 years. He said he was going to put Clinton in jail. He said he was going to drain the swamp. He said he was going to DECLAS. NONE of that happened.
The only people that went to prison were Trump associates. The swamp got bigger. I had such high hopes for a non-politician being in office. In the end, we were let down, bigly. His SCOTUS picks can't even get behind the Constitution.
Not saying Trump is a bad man. I'll vote for him in 2024 if he runs, because he's hella better than any other repuke out there that might run. But at the end of the day, we REALLY need to realize and accept the fact that it doesn't matter who gets elected. DC isn't going to change by voting for R's.
Just wait tll Durham finishes up. There will be hell to pay. /s
Anybody that gives a crap knows exactly what happened with the Russia crap in early 2017 when it all started to unfold and those on the inside were telling everybody they wanted to hear that it was total garbage
The stupid ass liberals still believe that Russia stole the election for Donald Trump and nothing you’re ever going to tell them is going to convince them otherwise because they are indeed that stupid
So then what would be the point of releasing all this information and just confirming with all of us smart conservatives you’ve known for four years already -are you going to try to convince those intractable liberals?
At this point we have bigger fish to fry namely the Democrats stole this election blatantly right in front of our face using any number of different methods and we need to undo that expose it and prove that this fraud was committed or else this country is over
We need names of these “intelligence officials” who committed these crimes.
There are various ways of dealing with such critters.
“And that’s not castigating an entire agency,” he continued. “We’re not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok
I will, the entire FBI and CIA needs to be disbanded.
They are more of a danger to the citizens than what they pretend to protect us from.
When will there be justice?
He had to balance getting other things done without miffing off everyone in Congress and the country even more than he already had. He was throttled by impeachments and fake dossiers and a Deep State that undermined his legitimately given orders.
The MSM lied everyday and hyped up the populace. He had to function around the normal channels, which he did marvelously.
One man can only do so much. I noticed you didn’t sacrifice your livelihood to help him and you sure didn’t get him better congressmen and senators.
Why didn’t you do anything to help?
"Tradecraft" is apparently the technical term for making s### up to match your desired narrative.
More and more I believe that the Federal Investigative Bureau and the Central Intelligence Insulting Agency need to be disbanded and their employees put on a permanent "do not hire" list. The bad 90% pull down the morally ambiguous 10%.
McConnell had to approve all the judges. Also, the bench is only so deep with “conservatives” that McConnell would give thumbs up to.
Correct. Every general, every leader, must ultimately have subordinates who will follow his orders. Doesn’t matter if they are legal, Constitutional, or what.
If a bunch of criminals below him refuse to carry out legal orders, not a whole lot anyone could do.
“Trump gave up”
That’s pretty much what I hear. He had a number of avenues in place after the election and did not pull the trigger. Instead he relied on the advice of insiders who were more interested in their future carrier path. Of course this all was made possible by Trump surrounding himself with poor advisors and not doing what was necessary: cleaning out the DOJ and his cabinet.
And what happened to the millions dollars in Trump campaign funds that disappeared, leaving Trump with little resources to fight at the end?
You have not a clue what I've done, so you shouldn't be asking dumb questions.
He had to function around the normal channels, which he did marvelously.
No, he wasn't elected to "function around the normal channels". He was elected to drain the swamp and expose the tyrants. I think it's funny that R's always say, "Oh, we can't do that! The media will excoriate us for it!" Lol. Anyone with 2 brains cells to rub together knows full well it DOESN'T MATTER what we do or don't do. The media will ALWAYS lie, make us look like fools or worse, criminals. Doesn't matter if it's true or not.
He was throttled by impeachments and fake dossiers and a Deep State that undermined his legitimately given orders.
How did impeachment stop him from pursuing charges against Hitlery? The impeachment was bogus. He could have still pursued charges. Instead, on his first few days in office, he said he was going to leave her alone. She had been through enough. Mistake #1.
At the end of the day, you're saying that the other R's in Congress held him back, when they too should have been exposed and tarred and feathered on their way out of DC. But oh no, we gotta keep voting for repukes, because if we don't, the left gets SCOTUS. Lol. The left already got SCOTUS, under Trump.
Get off your high horse. I ain't saying Trump is bad or wrong. Again, I'll vote for him in 2024 if, in fact, he runs. All I'm saying is that we can accept facts, or we can be like the anti-America leftist liberals and live in a fantasy land. Right now, the vast majority of R's I know, including you, are living in fantasy land.
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