An email indicates that former FBI Director James Comey was unsuccessful in an attempt to alter a draft public statement from then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that questioned the veracity and reliability of the now-infamous “Trump dossier.”
The document, produced by former British spy Christopher Steele for political opposition research firm Fusion GPS and financed by the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton, became the central document triggering the so-called “Spygate” investigation into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Immediately following publication in the media about the existence of the document, an email exchange between Comey and Clapper shows the latter sought to release a statement that “[t]he IC [Intelligence Community] has not made any judgment that the information in [the Steele election reporting] is reliable.”
But Comey interjected, suggesting that a different public statement by Clapper be made that did not attack the credibility of the wild, unsubstantiated allegations made by Steele.
The Comey email, which has not received media attention until now, was revealed inside the Justice Department’s recently released 476-page Inspector General report on the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation, Breitbart News reported.
Comey wrote in his email:
I just had a chance to review the proposed talking points on this for today. Perhaps it is a nit, but I worry that it may not be best to say “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in the document is reliable.”
I say that because we HAVE concluded that the source [Steele] is reliable and has a track record with us of reporting reliable information; we have some visibility into his source network, some of which we have determined to be sub-sources in a position to report on such things; and much of what he reports in the current document is consistent with and corroborative of other reporting included in the body of the main IC report.
That said, we are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting to include in the body of the [ICA] report. That all rings in my ears as more complicated than “we have not made a judgment that the information in the document is reliable.”
It might be better to say that “we have not be [sic] able to sufficiently corroborate the information to include it in the body of our Russia report but, for a variety of reasons, we thought it important to include it in our report to our senior-most audience.”
The email was sent on January 11, 2017, one day after web publication BuzzFeed the dossier’s full unverified contents.
The same day, CNN published a leak that the dossier had been included in an official classified January 6, 2017 briefing with President-Elect Trump.
Republicans and allies of the president have long since questioned why the unsubstantiated dossier was included in an official classified briefing.
In the end, Clapper rejected Comey’s suggested changes.
“The IC has not made any judgment that the information in [the Steele election reporting] is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions” in the official January 6, 2017 U.S. Intelligence Community report, known as the ICA, which analyzed alleged Russian interference efforts in the 2016 election.