James Clapper, while the nation’s highest ranking intelligence officer, leaked to CNN sleazy anti-Trump information contained in the Christoper Steele dossier that was privately briefed to the president-elect, according to a new House intelligence report.
Now a paid CNN analyst, Mr. Clapper had denied he was the leaker. He is an ardent Trump critic and has predicted his downfall.
President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, Mr. Clapper admitted to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in private testimony that he briefed CNN’s Jake Tapper in early January 2017.
He had pressed FBI Director James Comey to present to Mr. Trump at Trump Tower on Jan. 6, 2017 the dossier’s salacious parts, according to Mr. Comey’s own memos.
CNN then ran a story on Jan. 10, 2017 about the briefing which said the Russians own compromising material on the new president concerning prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.
The report gave the dossier instant legitimacy. Its unverified charges have dogged the Trump White House ever since.
Mr. Steele, an British ex-spy, was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The CNN report made no mention of its partisan origins as opposition research, although the intelligence community knew this at the time.
CNN received the prestigious Merriman Smith Award on Saturday for its Jan. 10 story at the annual White House Correspondents dinner.
The Clapper-dossier chronology
Mr. Clapper had urged the Trump briefing, then leaked the information to CNN, which ran the story. Mr. Clapper later was hired by CNN as an analyst, and CNN won an award for the story based on his leak.
The Clapper admission is contained in the final Russia election report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Republican majority concluded there was no election collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
“Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic,” the committee report said.
After the CNN leaked story, Mr. Clapper issued a statement condemning the leaks and expressing his “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press … I do not believe the leaks came from with the [intelligence community].”
Committee Republicans said that the CNN report was the spur that prompted the news website BuzzFeed to post the entire 35-page dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.
Mr. Clapper joined CNN in August 2017, a month after his committee testimony.
He said on CNN earlier this month that he had not spoken to any reporters until after he retired as director of national intelligence.
“I talked about it after I left government,” he said. “I don’t understand how I leaked it to CNN.”
The award citation to four CNN journalists, including Mr. Tapper, reads:
These four journalists and a number of other CNN reporters broke the story that the intelligence community had briefed President Barack Obama and then-President elect Donald Trump that Russia had compromising information about Trump. The CNN team later reported that then-FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump about the dossier. Thanks to this CNN investigation, ‘the dossier, is now part of the lexicon. The depth of reporting demonstrated in these remarkable and important pieces, and the constant updates as new information continued to be uncovered showed breaking news reporting at its best.
The citation omits the fact the dossier was unverified opposition research.
Mr. Trump opted not to attend the correspondents dinner for the second straight year. Republicans contend Mr. Trump was the victim of a setup on Jan. 6, 2017.
CNN’s updated Jan. 12, 2017, story quoted a “high level” Obama official as saying, “I have a sense the outgoing administration and intelligence community is setting down the pieces so this must be investigated seriously and run down. I think [the] concern was to be sure that whatever information was out there is put into the system so it is evaluated as it should be and acted upon as necessary.”