U.S. intelligence officials referred Hillary Clinton to the FBI for investigation in September 2016 over an alleged plan to link President Donald Trump to Russia’s election interference efforts, according to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe revealed the investigative referral in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Tuesday.
According to Ratcliffe, former CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama in late July 2016 about Clinton’s approval of a plan to link Trump to Russia’s election meddling efforts.
Ratcliffe wrote in the letter that on Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded a referral for an investigation into Clinton to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, the deputy chief of counterintelligence.
Ratcliffe said the referral dealt with Clinton’s “approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.”
It is unclear who submitted the referral to the FBI and whether the bureau opened an investigation into the matter.
Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Clinton’s campaign authorized hiring an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Fusion in turn hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier that accused the Trump campaign of carrying out a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
While the Russian government hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, the special counsel’s office determined that nobody on the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin.
Key allegations in Steele’s dossier remain either uncorroborated or have been debunked. A Justice Department inspector general’s report said the FBI received evidence in early 2017 that Russian intelligence officers may have fed disinformation into the dossier.
Last week, Graham released a declassified FBI memo which said that the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation in 2009 against Igor Danchenko, the primary source for Christopher Steele.
The FBI relied heavily on the dossier to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump adviser.
According to Ratcliffe, U.S. intelligence agencies in late July 2016 “obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis” which alleged that Clinton had approved a campaign to link Trump to Russia’s hack of the DNC.
“The [intelligence community] does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication,” Ratcliffe wrote.
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