In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brennan responded to Ratcliffe’s recent decision to declassify the notes written by the former CIA director in 2016 after informing then-President Barack Obama about intelligence related to the Russian Security Service that reported that Clinton had approved “a proposal from one of his foreign policy advisers to defame Donald Trump by causing a scandal by claiming interference from the Russian security service.”
“John Ratcliffe is anything but an intelligence professional. His selective declassification of information is scary. It is designed to further the political interests of Donald Trump and the Republicans who are aligned with him,”
“These were my notes from the 2016 period, when I briefed President Obama and the rest of the National Security Council team about what the Russians were doing and was providing examples of the kind of access the US intelligence community had. to Russian information and what the Russians were talking about and saying, “he added.
The former CIA director also rejected Ratcliffe’s declassification of a heavily drafted CIA memo concerning the investigative referral forwarded to the FBI at the time. The memo notes that the Russians argue that Clinton’s attempt to cause a scandal was “a means of distracting the public from its use of a private email server.”
“If, indeed, what the Russians claimed Hillary was trying to highlight the reported links between Trump and the Russians, if it were accurate and a big if, there is nothing illegal about that,” Brennan said.
“John Ratcliffe and others are trying to paint this illegal activity that deserves a follow-up investigation by the FBI. No. It was a campaign activity,” he added.
The president’s allies seized Ratcliffe’s declassified documents, including the release of Brennan’s notes and the CIA memo, as evidence that the FBI should investigate unfounded claims that Clinton committed crimes during the 2016 campaign.
They also cited the documents in an attempt to further undermine the intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that Russia interfered in 2016 to help Trump ahead of the 2020 election, claiming, without evidence, that Clinton tried to fabricate a scandal for hurt Trump.
On Tuesday, CNN confirmed that Ratcliffe declassified Brennan’s notes and intelligence memo – a decision that comes a week after releasing a letter outlining claims about Clinton from Russian intelligence services.
In a statement to CNN, Ratcliffe said he declassified the documents “under the direction of President Trump”.
“Today, under the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relating to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities,” he said.
Trump on Tuesday evening tweeted about the investigation into Russia, promising to declassify all related materials and documents “relating to the single largest political crime in American history, the Russian hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton email scandal.”
That message came during a Twitter spree attacking former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Special Adviser Robert Mueller, and the FBI, where Trump said he will declassify documents “without editorial”. Trump was quoting on Twitter Paul Sperry, a conservative reporter and colleague at the Hoover Institute, who wrote that if the documents were declassified, it would show that “the FBI and CIA not only knew that the allegations of Russia against Trump were a dirty trick politician, but they agreed. “
Yet in a subsequent tweet, Trump claimed to have already declassified all relevant information, but it is unclear what he was referring to besides the documents released by Ratcliffe in recent days.
But Brennan told CNN on Tuesday that the declassified memo from Ratcliffe, who he called a counterintelligence chief operating officer (CIOL), was just one of several documents sent to the FBI relating to Russian activity during the 2016 race.
“There are many other CIOLs talking about the contacts that were taking place between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians. So you may want to think about trying to balance some of these publications by providing information to the American public about what the intelligence community had. discovered during this time period about Russia’s interactions with those involved in the Trump campaign, “he said.
Last week, CNN reported that Ratcliffe declassified Russian intelligence unverified despite concerns raised by the CIA and the National Security Agency, according to people briefed on the matter.
Career officials in intelligence agencies were concerned about declassifying information because it was not verified and believed it could reveal sources and methods. Ratcliffe ignored these concerns and sent the document to Senate Judiciary Speaker Lindsey Graham, the people said.
That declassified document, which includes a 2016 Russian intelligence assessment that Hillary Clinton approved a campaign plan to “stir up a scandal” against then-candidate Trump by tying him to Russia and the Democratic National Committee hack, sparked allegations from Democrats and former intelligence officials that Ratcliffe was politicizing intelligence and sharing Russian disinformation.
It is the latest in a series of declassified documents Ratcliffe and Attorney General William Barr provided to Senate Republicans and others targeting FBI investigations into Russia ahead of the November election.
Ratcliffe noted in the summary he provided to Graham that the intelligence community “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the analysis of Russian intelligence may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
Ratcliffe later issued a clarifying statement that the information “is not Russian misinformation”. But several intelligence and law enforcement officials say the possibility that it is disinformation has not been ruled out by intelligence agencies.