Obama appointee and former CIA director John Brennan is the target of a perjury investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, according to an exclusive Real Clear Investigations report.
Chairman Devin Nunes is turning his attention to the role the CIA played in promoting the Steele dossier. The FBI and Justice Department relied heavily on the unverified dossier in their applications for a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
Brennan said under oath that he didn't know who commissioned the document and that the dossier was not used to come to the conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document (excerpt here), even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Last week, Nunes (R-Calif.) released a declassified memo exposing surveillance "abuses" by the Obama DOJ and FBI in their investigation of Trump's ties to Russia. It said the agencies relied heavily on the uncorroborated dossier to take out a warrant to secretly surveil a Trump adviser in the heat of the 2016 presidential election, even though they were aware the underlying "intelligence" supporting the wiretap order was political opposition research funded by Clinton allies – a material fact they concealed from FISA court judges in four separate applications.
Nunes plans to soon release a separate report detailing the Obama State Department's role in creating and disseminating the dossier – which has emerged as the foundation of the Obama administration's Russia "collusion" investigation. Among other things, the report will identify Obama-appointed diplomats who worked with partisan operatives close to Hillary Clinton to help ex-British spy Christopher Steele compile the dossier, sources say.
"Those are the first two phases" of Nunes'[s] multipart inquiry, a senior investigator said. "In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus."
The aide, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as President Obama's first CIA director, Leon Panetta, along with the former president's intelligence czar, James Clapper, and national security adviser, Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials.
"John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier," the investigator said. "He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump."
Attempts to reach Brennan for comment were unsuccessful.
Expect a lot of "I don't knows" and "I can't recalls" from Brennan during questioning. It will be very hard to prove he lied when he said he didn't know the provenance of the dossier, nor was he aware of the importance attached to the document in the CIA's analysis of Russian meddling.
But you can bet he is going to be squirming. The whole crew – Brennan, Panetta, Power, Rice, and Clapper – may all plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying. That will only make them look guiltier. But it will serve the purpose of stymieing the investigation. The strategy will be to hope the Democrats take over the House in November, thus making all these investigations into anyone but Trump campaign officials disappear.
Is it likely Brennan was unaware of where the dossier came from? No. Is it possible? Yes. On that, the former CIA director will hang his hat.