Durham scrutinizing John Brennan’s handling of Russian interference in 2016
U.S. Attorney John Durham is reportedly reviewing John Brennan’s analysis of Russian election interference, including scrutiny of the former Obama CIA director’s handling of a secret source said to be close to the Kremlin.
Durham, who was selected by Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to look into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and the government’s response to Moscow’s meddling, is investigating whether Brennan’s CIA was attempting to keep other agencies in the dark as he pushed for a specific preconceived analytic assessment about Russia’s true intentions in 2016, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The top Connecticut prosecutor’s team reviewed emails from the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency analysts who came together to assess Russia’s interference, the new report revealed, and Durham’s investigators pressed for answers about why some agencies at least temporarily denied other agencies access to secretive intelligence about the Kremlin’s active measures campaign.
Durham interviewed agents and analysts from all three agencies, and the report said he was scrutinizing whether the clash over intelligence sharing was the typical sort of bureaucratic turf battle over jealously guarded secrets or an effort to cover something up.
Much of this revolves around how the United States government eventually reached its January 2017 intelligence assessment on Russian meddling and whether Brennan was pushing for a biased result.
One major battle was about the identity and credibility of a CIA source allegedly close to the Kremlin. The NSA wanted more details about him, which the CIA resisted before providing them. The NSA then disagreed with the CIA and FBI about how much confidence to place in the source.
At least some intelligence officials were disturbed by a law enforcement officer such as Durham inquiring into the assessments made by intelligence agencies, though Durham played a similar role in his Obama-era investigation into the CIA's destruction of tapes showing the harsh interrogation of detainees.
Durham hasn’t yet interviewed Brennan, though the report said his emails and other records have been requested from the CIA by the U.S. attorney. Retired Adm. Mike Rogers, who was head of the NSA at the time, was interviewed by Durham last summer and fall.
The January 2017 intelligence community assessment in question concluded with "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016” and that Russia worked to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency” and “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” The NSA diverged on one aspect, expressing only “moderate confidence” that Putin actively tried to help Trump’s election chances and harm those of Clinton by contrasting her unfavorably.