On Friday, a newly-declassified congressional report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections revealed that Obama’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) leaked information about the infamous anti-Trump dossier to CNN’s Jake Tapper, lied about it to Congress, and then was rewarded with a contract at CNN a few months later.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis notes that the revelations about former DNI James Clapper were made in a new 253-page report from the House Intelligence Committee.
“Clapper flatly denied ‘discussing[ing] the dossier or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists,’” the committee found.
Clapper explicitly told Congress that he had never discussed the dossier with any journalists. As Davis notes, Clapper later changed his story when he was confronted about his communications with Tapper.
“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 report states. “Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA.”
The revelation is significant because former FBI Director James Comey wrote in his memos that when he met with President Donald Trump, before CNN and BuzzFeed published stories on the salacious and still unproven allegations contained in the dossier, he told the president that “CNN had [the dossier] and [was] looking for a news hook.”
The congressional report on Russian interference noted that it was this very briefing of Trump that multiple media organizations used as an excuse to publish the unverified dossier.
The House Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian meddling explained that it was that meeting that Comey had with Trump that the media used as their hook to publish the dossier:
The Committee assesses that leaks to CNN about the dossier were especially significant, since CNN’s report “that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump” was the proximate cause of BuzzFeed News’ decision to publish the dossier for the first time just a few hours later. Until that point, the dossier had been “circulating among elected official, intelligence agents, and journalists,” but remained unpublished. As the accompanying article explained, “[n]ow BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of government.”
According to Comey’s memos, the meeting was Clapper’s idea, which The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway suggested meant that the meeting was all a setup.
Comey’s memos suggested that CNN helped orchestrate the meeting that, in hindsight, was the spark that eventually led to a special counsel being appointed to conduct the Russia investigation, as Hemingway explained.