Ratcliffe declassified intelligence from 2016, which confirmed that Russian intelligence analysts then believed the Clinton marketing campaign deliberate on linking Republican then-candidate Trump to Russia’s hack of the Democratic Nationwide Committee. Ratcliffe added that then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama on the intelligence and that the CIA referred the matter to the FBI. Final week, Ratcliffe released closely redacted variations of Brennan’s notes of his briefing of Obama and the CIA referral to the FBI.
The president’s political allies have taken this data even additional, arguing that the allegation of Russian interference within the 2016 election was concocted by the Clinton marketing campaign. Vice President Pence made this exact level through the vice-presidential debate final week after Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) appropriately identified that Russia interfered to assist then-candidate Trump in 2016.
We now have 4 reactions to the particular intelligence launched by Ratcliffe. First, it doesn’t present that the Clinton marketing campaign created the story of Russian interference within the election or that there was a plan linking Trump to the hack of the Democratic Nationwide Committee. It reveals solely that Russian analysts believed there was. Huge distinction.
Second, there’s good motive to imagine that the intelligence itself is Russian disinformation. Our expertise tells us that it almost definitely is. Certainly, Ratcliffe’s declassified letter carried the next caveat: “The [intelligence community] doesn’t know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence evaluation might mirror exaggeration or fabrication.”
Third, Brennan has since publicly stated that he briefed the data to Obama not as a result of he thought Clinton had performed one thing flawed however as a result of he needed to focus on for the president the CIA’s assortment capabilities and since he needed to ship the message that the CIA was going to observe intelligence regardless of who the candidate occurred to be. The CIA, Brennan needed to show, was by no means politicizing its work on the 2016 election.
Fourth, Brennan has additionally strongly hinted that the referral to the FBI handled one other matter contained in the identical stream of intelligence. And he has appropriately identified that even when the Russian analysts have been proper that Clinton needed to make use of the Russian assault on our democracy politically, it might by no means be against the law. It could not require the CIA to make a referral to the FBI. And it might not require an FBI investigation.
So, what is absolutely occurring right here? It appears that evidently it is a easy try to distract voters from the problems dragging down Trump’s reelection marketing campaign, specifically the federal government’s response to covid-19 and the accompanying financial melancholy.
This additionally appears to be one other try by the Trump administration to argue that Russia didn’t intrude within the 2016 election as a result of the president one way or the other sees that as calling the legitimacy of his victory into query. It’s as if the president continues to be standing in Helsinki accepting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials over the view of his personal intelligence officers.
If that is simply politics, why are two profession intelligence officers writing about it? As a result of Trump and Ratcliffe are utilizing the intelligence neighborhood as a political weapon.
Not solely is such politicization straight opposite to the values of the intelligence neighborhood, it’s inconsistent with the promise Ratcliffe made to the Senate Intelligence Committee throughout his affirmation hearings that he wouldn’t have a political agenda within the job.
He both lied on the time or modified his thoughts. Two of his predecessors beneath Trump — Dan Coats and Joseph Maguire — have been beneath comparable stress to politicize intelligence, and they didn’t cave. It appears Ratcliffe did; in reality, it appears he led the cost. In both case, we predict each Republicans and Democrats ought to demand his resignation.
If individuals imagine that our intelligence neighborhood is politicized, it can lose its credibility. Its views on essential points will carry much less weight with policymakers and the American individuals, and it’ll subsequently be much less efficient in warning of threats to our nationwide safety. We are going to all be much less protected in consequence.