Media reports from the U.S. said:
President Donald Trump says he has authorized the release of “any and all” documents related to the Russiagate conspiracy theory and the Hillary Clinton email scandal, noting the material would be completely free of redactions.
“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any and all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American history, the Russia Hoax,” said the U.S. president in a tweet on Tuesday night.
Trump followed up his first post with another missive stating he had declassified all information on Russiagate “long ago,” lamenting that his own personnel have “acted very slowly” to release new material.
The announcement came hours after Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe authorized the release of a number of documents linked to the Trump-Russia scandal, including hand-written notes from former CIA Director John Brennan, who served during the latter half of the Barack Obama administration.
The declassified notes suggest that Brennan had briefed Obama on a “plan” by then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to smear Trump with allegations of ‘Russian collusion’ as a means of “distancing the public from her use of a private email server” before the 2016 election.
Ratcliffe originally declassified the notes – as well as a 2016 CIA memo addressed to then-FBI Director James Comey and a Russian intelligence assessment obtained by US agencies – in late September.
Ratcliffe mentioned all three documents in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
The documents indicated that Clinton worked to fabricate the Russiagate scandal in order to vilify her electoral rival and deflect negative media coverage. None of them was released to a broader public at the time.
Though Ratcliffe initially cautioned that the Russian assessment – which was declassified but not published – “may reflect exaggeration or fabrication,” he has clarified that US intelligence does not consider the material “disinformation.”
The CIA memo, also released on Tuesday, meanwhile, reflects similar information to Brennan’s notes, discussing Clinton’s “approval of a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections” as a way to distract from the private email server scandal, which dogged the Democrat’s campaign at the time.
Clinton’s spokesperson, Nick Merrill, has deemed all of the allegations contained in the documents “baseless bulls**t.”
The new release on Tuesday comes on the heels of a number of similar publications, such as a trove of documents unsealed last month revealing FBI agents on the Trump-Russia probe had purchased professional liability insurance amid fears the investigation ran afoul of the law, which Trump has touted as proof of an attempted “coup” against him.
Allegations of Trump-Russia collusion emerged before the 2016 race concluded, with the Clinton team advancing the theory that the president-to-be worked with Moscow to throw the election, coordinating a series of hacks on Democratic computers and Clinton campaign staff while Russian operatives spread disinformation with online “troll farms.” A special counsel probe led by US Attorney Robert Mueller failed to turn up any evidence of collusion, however, resulting in no indictments directly linked to the conspiracy.
Last year, the president gave Attorney General Bill Barr authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump, at the time, also ordered members of the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr’s probe.
Allies of the president, including Republicans on Capitol Hill leading their own investigations into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, have criticized officials like FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, claiming that the directors have been blocking the release of documents.
“Today, at the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relevant to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities,” Ratcliffe said in a statement to Fox News Tuesday.
A source familiar with the documents explained that Brennan’s handwritten notes were taken after briefing Obama on the matter.
“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED],” Brennan notes read. “CITE [summarizing] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service,” Brennan’s notes read.
The notes state “on 28 of July.” In the margin, Brennan writes “POTUS,” but that section of the notes is redacted.
“Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia,” the notes read.
The remainder of the notes are redacted, except in the margins, which reads: “JC,” “Denis,” and “Susan.”
The notes do not spell out the full names but “JC” could be referring to then-FBI Director James Comey, “Susan” could refer to National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and “Denis” could refer to then-Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough.
The declassification comes after Ratcliffe, last week, shared newly-declassified information with the Senate Judiciary Committee which revealed that in September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral on Hillary Clinton purportedly approving “a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections” in order to distract the public from her email scandal.
That referral was sent to Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok.
“The following information is provided for the exclusive use of your bureau for background investigative action or lead purposes as appropriate,” the CIA memo to Comey and Strzok stated.
“This memorandum contains sensitive information that could be source revealing. It should be handled with particular attention to compartmentation and need-to-know. To avoid the possible compromise of the source, any investigative action taken in response to the information below should be coordinated in advance with Chief Counterintelligence Mission Center, Legal,” the memo, which was sent to Comey and Strzok, read. “It may not be used in any legal proceeding — including FISA applications—without prior approval…”
“Per FBI verbal request, CIA provides the below examples of information the CROSSFIRE HURRICANE fusion cell has gleaned to date,” the memo continued. ““An exchange [REDACTED] discussing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”
The memo is heavily redacted.
Ratcliffe informed the committee last week that the Obama administration obtained Russian intelligence in July 2016 with allegations against Clinton, but cautioned that the intelligence community “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the text to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
According to Ratcliffe’s letter, the intelligence included the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”
But Ratcliffe, in a statement released after the information was made public, pushed back on the idea he was advancing “Russian disinformation.”
“To be clear, this is not Russian disinformation and has not been assessed as such by the Intelligence Community,” Ratcliffe said in a statement to Fox News. “I’ll be briefing Congress on the sensitive sources and methods by which it was obtained in the coming days.”
Another source familiar with the documents told Fox News “this information has been sought by hundreds of congressional requests for legitimate oversight purposes and was withheld for political spite — and the belief that they’d never get caught.”
The source added that the Brennan notes are significant because it is “their own words, written and memorialized in real time.”
Meanwhile, last week, during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey was asked whether he received an investigative referral on Clinton from 2016, but he said it did not “ring any bells.”
“You don’t remember getting an investigatory lead from the intelligence community? Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to James Comey and Strzok regarding Clinton’s approval of a plan [about] Trump…as a means of distraction?” Graham asked Comey.
“That doesn’t ring any bells with me,” Comey said.
Graham questioned “how far-fetched is that,” citing the fact that Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, through law firm Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS and ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to author and compile information for the controversial and unverified anti-Trump dossier.
The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, through law firm Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS and ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to author and compile information for the controversial and unverified anti-Trump dossier.
The dossier contains claims about alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia that served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Attorney General Bill Barr last year appointed U.S. Attorney of Connecticut John Durham to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller completed his years-long investigation into whether the campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
It is unclear whether this information will be considered part of Durham’s investigation, or whether the president’s declassification will affect Durham’s investigation.
A source familiar with Durham’s investigation told Fox News last month that parts of what Huber was investigating in 2017 — involving the Clinton Foundation — have been incorporated in Durham’s investigation.
In November 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed Huber, the U.S. attorney for Utah, and other senior prosecutors to evaluate “certain issues” involving the sale of Uranium One, and other dealings related to the Clinton Foundation. Sessions tapped Huber after requests by congressional Republicans, who had been calling for the appointment of a special counsel to review the matters.
Huber was also tasked with reviewing the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe, including allegations that the Justice Department and FBI “policies or procedures” were not followed.
It has been unclear, for years, the status of Huber’s investigation, but another source told Fox News Thursday that Huber has faced mounting criticism from the Justice Department and White House over his progress.
It is unclear whether any aspects of the Clinton email investigation were included in Huber’s review.