The CIA wrote a highly classified three-page memo to FBI Director James B. Comey and agent Peter Strzok telling them that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had approved a plan to blame Russian computer hacking on rival Donald Trump.
The Washington Times obtained a copy of the heavily redacted memo sent to the FBI on Sept. 7, 2016, weeks after Mr. Strzok had opened the Crossfire Hurricane probe into the Trump campaign on suspicion of conspiring with the Kremlin.
Then-CIA Director John O. Brennan wrote in notes that Mrs. Clinton allegedly approved the plan, one declassified document shows.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe had previously described the contents in a letter to Congress. He declassified the memo and notes on Tuesday at the direction of Mr. Trump.
The president has repeatedly complained he is the victim of a “Russia hoax” that said he colluded with the Kremlin.
In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s reelection team said the campaign of Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden, the vice president at the time, should explain whether he had any role in the matter.
DOCUMENT: CIA memo to FBI dated Sept. 7, 2016
“It is imperative that the American people now learn what then-Vice President Joe Biden knew about this conspiracy and when he knew it,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
The Brennan memo refers to “the source,” a suspected Russian.
“An exchange [redacted] discussing U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of private email server,” the CIA memo says.
Mr. Brennan wrote in notes: “We’re gaining additional insight into Russian activities.”
Mr. Brennan wrote that on July 26, Mrs. Clinton allegedly approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
The information came from a Crossfire Hurricane fusion cell, the memo said, an apparent joint operation of FBI, CIA and other agencies.
DOCUMENT: Redacted John Brennan notes (released Oct. 6, 2020)
Mrs. Clinton received repeated scrutiny during the 2016 campaign for her practice of storing State Department emails on an at-home computer server.
By September, WikiLeaks had released a trove of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian military intelligence.
Mr. Ratcliffe sent the memo to Congress’ intelligence committee chairmen.
Mr. Brennan went on CNN and accused Mr. Ratcliffe of releasing the memo to help the president politically. He said he briefed President Barack Obama on the intelligence as well as other Russia election matters.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, has termed the intelligence “Russian disinformation.”
Mr. Ratcliffe, who first notified Congress about the alleged scheme in a letter, issued a statement at the time saying the intelligence is not disinformation. The documents released Tuesday back up his statement.
At the time Mrs. Clinton allegedly approved the anti-Trump plan, her campaign had received anti-Trump information from its hired opposition researcher, Christopher Steele. His dossier said there existed an “extensive conspiracy” between Russia and the Trump campaign to interfere in the election.
Special counsel Robert Mueller reported in March 2019 that he did not establish such a conspiracy, and no one was charged.
The CIA memo said it was provided to the FBI “for the exclusive use of your bureau for background, investigative action or lead purposes, as appropriate.”
Apparently the FBI took no action. Mr. Comey testified last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not recall the CIA memo, which was addressed directly to him.
The CIA directed the FBI to closely guard the memo by keeping it out of court filings and databases.