Trump and Clapper differ on what was said in call on Russia dossier
Reuters, Jan 12 2017
DCI Clapper and Donald Trump gave different accounts of a phone conversation they had about a dossier of unverified, salacious claims linking Russia to Trump, who is locked in a war of words with the intelligence agencies he will command in eight days. Trump has been at odds with ther spy agencies for months, disputing their conclusions that Russia used hacking and other tactics to try to tilt the 2016 presidential election in his favor. On Wednesday, Trump opened a new battlefront in response to media reports of unsubstantiated claims that he was caught in a compromising position in Russia, by accusing the intelligence agencies of practices reminiscent of Nazi Germany. On Wednesday night, DNI Clapper said that in his call with Trump he expressed his dismay over media leaks, said that the report was not produced by Pindosi intelligence agencies, said that he did not believe the leaks came from Pindosi intelligence agencies, said that they had not judged whether the information was reliable but did not say it was false. Trump suggested in a tweet on Thursday that Clapper had agreed the report was untrue, tweeting:
James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!
Democrat Jew Congress crittur Adam Schiff, an opponent of Trump on the House Intelligence Committee, was asked by CNN on Thursday morning about Trump’s characterization of Clapper’s statement that the document was false. He said:
Sadly, you cannot rely on the president-elect’s tweets or statements about what he’s receiving in intelligence briefings. And that’s a real problem. If people really want to know what Director Clapper had to say to Donald Trump, do not rely on Donald Trump’s tweets, rely on Director Clapper’s statement.
At a news conference before speaking to Clapper, Trump accused Pindo intelligence agencies of leaking the document to the media. Two Pindo boxtops said the allegations about Trump, which one called “unsubstantiated,” were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election given to Trump and Obama. CNN reported the existence of the memo on Tuesday. BuzzFeed published the entire 35-page document, produced by a former British MI6 officer, that outlined the allegations of compromising behavior by Trump and his purported ties with people in Russia. The claims were included in opposition research reports prepared for political rivals of Trump during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
British parliament’s intelligence watchdog to scrutinise Trump dossier
Rowena Mason, Graun, Jan 12 2017
Parliament’s intelligence and security watchdog is expected to carry out “inquiries and discussions” relating to the Christopher Steele dossier prepared on Donald Trump, as part of its work in scrutinising the British intelligence agencies. Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general who has led the intelligence and security committee since 2015, said it “clearly is a matter which could fall within the remit of the committee”, while cautioning that it only examines issues relating to the intelligence agencies, not freelancers or contractors. Asked whether the committee would look into whether there had been any involvement of the British intelligence agencies in handling of the dossier, Grieve said:
The answer to that is that it must be the case that we would be in a position to look into that, yes, if we wish to. The ISC will hold such inquiries and discussions as it considers to be necessary as a result of this news item.
The committee is facing calls from a number of MPs to launch an inquiry into whether the intelligence agencies and government had seen the dossier or formed a view on its contents before it was passed to the FBI and Walnuts McCain. Ben Bradshaw, a former Foreign Minister who oversaw the workings of the security services, said:
It’s essential for the intelligence and security committee to launch an inquiry, especially given No 10’s refusal to comment on the document. You have a British citizen and former MI6 officer in hiding for fear of his life. You have a former British ambassador to Moscow implicated in the passing on of this dossier. Yet we have total silence from the British government when the Pindosi administration has been pulling out all the stops to both reveal and publicise the extent of Russian meddling in their democratic process. Sweden, Germany, France all published fulsome accounts of evidence of Russian meddling in their democratic processes. They have all set up specific units to counter it. Yet we have a complete radio and media silence from the British government. It is completely impossible that all this is going on without the knowledge of British ministers, yet the British public are being kept in the dark. I am planning to ask an urgent question in the House of Commons about it. I think the ISC should look at it. Given the comprehensive report published by the Pindosi intelligence agencies, it would be extraordinary in my view if the ISC do not look at this. The joint committee on national security should also broaden its inquiry on cyber to look at this. It is not just hacking but propaganda, fake news and billions of pounds that Russia spends employing trolls and bots. Either the government has something to hide, or we are way behind the curve on this.
Mary Creagh, a former shadow cabinet minister, said:
I believe the ISC should launch an inquiry. The foreign secretary should come to the House of Commons to give an assessment of the contents of the dossier. This is a dossier that has emanated from Britain, from a former member of the Pindosi intelligence services, where the British government put out a D Notice to prevent his identification before dropping it, and where the author of the dossier shared it with the FBI. We can presume he shared it with our own intelligence agencies before the statement before Xmas from Alex Younger warning of hostile powers interfering in western democratic processes. It is clearly something that has been seen and considered by UK intelligence and I would hope by UK ministers. I asked to hear from the foreign secretary about his analysis. If they are unable to give an analysis in public then the ISC should investigate as a matter of urgency to satisfy themselves as to the dossier’s veracity or otherwise.
Pressure is only likely to increase on the government from all sides to explain whether it had any knowledge of the dossier as it was being prepared by the former MI6 officer, who has been named as Christopher Steele. Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, said:
The Prime Minister must make clear that had nothing to do with ex-MI6 agent’s bizarre dossier claims.
But No 10 ’s official spox refused to discuss whether there was any Britain involvement in or knowledge of the intelligence. She said:
From the reports I have seen, those all seem to be about former staff. There is a standard process that is followed with regard to the naming of people that have worked in certain roles in the civil service, be they still serving or former roles. I am not aware of anyone from the transition team being in touch with us about this specific matter, though general contact continues. We are in touch with the team to continue the planning for the first meeting between the prime minister and president-elect this spring.
Paddy Ashdown, the Lib Dem peer and former diplomat, said I think the intelligence agencies must be trying to get to the bottom of the veracity of the allegations, but the dossier shows the hallmarks of the FSB planting false or heavily embellished information. In this hall of mirrors, anybody can indulge their wildest fantasy theory but you have to ask yourself who benefits. Clearly the CIA doesn’t (yes it does – RB). Clearly Mr Trump doesn’t. But every aspect benefits Russia (no it doesn’t – RB). It absolutely leaves Britain in a difficult position and Moscow will make the most of that. But it doesn’t mean to say we can do anything about it.