After briefing Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff about bombshell intelligence on Russia in August 2016, CIA Director John Brennan waited nearly three weeks before briefing senior Republicans and the rest of the Congressional Gang of Eight, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
After briefing President Barack Obama and White House officials about the intelligence in the first week of August, Brennan provided a one-on-one briefing to Pelosi, the House minority leader, on Aug. 11, 2016. Brennan then briefed Schiff, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on Aug. 17, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Aug. 26, according to the third volume of the Senate intelligence committee’s Russia report.
Nearly four weeks after briefing Pelosi, Brennan informed the five members of the Congressional Gang of Eight—including the top Republicans in the House and Senate—in a series of one-on-one meetings on Sept. 6, 2016.
The sequence of the briefings is a major departure from the standard Gang of Eight procedure of group briefings which include all eight members. Brennan’s choice to delay informing Republicans by three weeks is likely to raise concerns that politics played a role in the dissemination of intelligence which the Senate report described as “the wake up call” for the Obama administration’s response to the alleged Russian operation to influence the 2016 election.
“Because these events unfolded in August, concurrent with the August congressional recess, the opportunity to convene a Gang of Eight session in a classified setting as a group would not have occurred until September,” the report states.
The content of Brennan’s briefings remains classified and little is known beyond anonymously sourced accounts in The Washington Post and The New York Times. President Barack Obama reacted to the intelligence with “grave concern,” according to Susan Rice. The allegations matched closely with some of the contents of the Steele dossier.
In public testimony, Brennan said the briefings were consistent with the findings of the Intelligence Community Assessment released on January 5, 2017.
“The substance of those briefings was entirely consistent with the main judgments contained in the January classified and unclassified assessments namely, that Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, and help President Trump’s election chances,” Brennan told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on May 23, 2017.
According to The Washington Post, Brennan relayed the intelligence to Obama in early August via an envelope sent to the White House. The contents of the envelope—attributed to a highly-placed source within the Kremlin—claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally given instructions to interfere in the U.S. election to damage then-candidate Hillary Clinton and assist then-candidate Donald Trump. Further reporting by The New York Times unearthed issues with the credibility of the source behind that intelligence, including suspicions that the person may be a double agent. The Epoch Times has not independently verified the claims made by the Post and New York Times.
Brennan’s intelligence triggered a flurry of activity at the National Security Council, which held a series of “small group” meetings to coordinate a response. Before the meetings were expanded to include the departments of the Treasury, Defense, and State in early September, the limited list of attendees included Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, Department for Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Avril Haines, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco.