December 9, 2019 By Madeline Osburn
The new report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed former CIA Director John Brennan lied to Congress about whether the dossier authored by Christopher Steele was used in the Obama administration’s Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).
The ICA, a report conducted by intelligence officials in 2016 on Russian election interference, was used to brief President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017. According to the IG report, there was significant discussion by top intelligence officials as to whether the unverified Steele dossier should be included in the main body of the ICA report, summarized in an appendix, or even included at all.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said that “he felt strongly that the Steele election reporting belonged in the body of the ICA, because he feared that placing it in an appendix was ‘tacking it on’ in a way that would ‘minimiz[e]’ the information and prevent it from being properly considered.”
Ultimately, the ICA included a short summary and assessment of the dossier, which was incorporated in an appendix. “In the appendix, the intelligence agencies explained that there was ‘only limited corroboration of the source’s reporting’ and that Steele’s election reports were not used ‘to reach analytic conclusions of the CIA/FBI/NSA assessment,’” the IG report states.
A few months later, on May 23, 2017, when testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Brennan categorically denied that the CIA relied on the Steele dossier for the ICA report. Here is the full exchange with former Rep. Trey Gowdy:
Mr. Gowdy: Do you know if the Bureau ever relied on the Steele dossier as any — as part of any court filings, applications, petitions, pleadings?
Mr. Brennan: I have no awareness.
Mr. Gowdy: Did the CIA rely on it?
Mr. Brennan: No.
Mr. Gowdy: Why not?
Mr. Brennan: Because we — we didn’t. It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence information that we had. It was not in any way used as a basis for the Intelligence Community assessment that was done. It was — it was not.
Brennan claimed the unverified dossier was not “part of the corpus of intelligence information we had.” On page 179 of the IG report, IG investigators asked former FBI Director James Comey if he remembered discussions with Brennan on presenting the dossier to Obama. Comey said Brennan and other officials argued it was “important” enough to include in the ICA — clearly part of the “corpus of intelligence information” they had.