Then-CIA Director John O. Brennan endorsed the Christopher Steele dossier when he acquired a copy in December 2016, saying it matched the Russia collusion charges from his sources, according to “Fear,” a Bob Woodward book on the Donald Trump presidency that debuted Tuesday.
A spokesman for Mr. Brennan said he never approved of the dossier. In fact, the source said, he worked to make sure it wasn’t included in the intelligence community assessment of Russian election interference.
“It wasn’t corroborated intel,” the spokesman told The Washington Times. The spokesman said one senior official wanted to include the document, which would have been a mistake.
The dossier, reviled by President Trump as a hoax, is mostly ignored by Mr. Woodward in terms of its pervasive influence on the media and FBI investigators.
The book makes no mention that the former British spy’s aim was to stop the Trump candidacy and then his presidency.
Mr. Woodward also doesn’t mention that the Steele opposition research was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. “Fear” doesn’t discuss the FBI and Department of Justice officials aligned to oppose Mr. Trump, such as fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the investigation, and FBI counsel Lisa Page.
There is no discussion of Carter Page and how the FBI used the unproven dossier to persuade judges to place a yearlong wiretap on the Trump campaign volunteer.
Mr. Woodward does disclose that one of Mr. Trump’s most virulent critics, Mr. Brennan, endorsed the dossier.
“The sources that Steele used for his dossier had not been polygraphed, which made their information uncorroborated, and potentially suspect,” Mr. Woodward writes. “But Brennan said the information was in line with their own sources, in which he had great confidence.”
None of Mr. Steele’s specific Trump-Russian collusion charges has been confirmed publicly.
For example, Mr. Steele wrote of an “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to interfere in the election, including Russian computer hacking. The FBI opened its investigation in July 2016. Two years later, that charge hasn’t been verified publicly.
Mr. Steele said Mr. Page and campaign manager Paul Manafort orchestrated the interference with Moscow. But there is no evidence that the two knew, or spoke to, each other. Mr. Steele said Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Vladimir Putin aides and orchestrate a hacking cover-up. No investigative evidence supports that charge.
After leaving the CIA, Mr. Brennan didn’t shy away from disclosing that he aided the Trump-Russia investigation. He said he provided then-FBI Director James B. Comey with the names of any Russian believed to have had contact with any Trump associate.
“I wanted to make sure that every information and bit of intelligence that we had was shared with the bureau so that they could take it. It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau,” he told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in May 2017.
“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred.”
Mr. Brennan, as a paid analyst on MSNBC, has suggested that Mr. Putin is blackmailing Mr. Trump. He has offered no evidence.
Mr. Trump last month took the extraordinary step of revoking the former CIA director’s top-secret security clearance.