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Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the U.S. government knows the allegations of “collusion” between Donald Trump and the Russian government are completely false.
Ratcliffe, who was citing “intelligence” he saw during his time as DNI under the former president, went on to say that Special Counsel John Durham is “revealing some of the details” of what he says was a plot by then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her 2016 team as well as campaign associates to push “a false narrative” to the CIA and the FBI.
Ratcliffe met with Durham on more than one occasion and told him there was evidence in intelligence to support the indictments of “multiple people” in his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Now, he adds, the alleged plan could lead to conspiracy charges “in the politically charged inquiry,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“What I saw, that I had never seen as a member of Congress, as we have all kinds of intelligence about fake Russia collusion. That Hillary Clinton had created or had a campaign plan to create fake Russian allegations to smear Donald Trump with things about Russia that weren’t true,” Ratcliffe told Fox News host Mark Levin on Sunday.
The Examiner adds:
Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who served as overseer of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies in the latter part of the Trump administration, declassified last fall two heavily redacted Russia-related documents, including handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan showing he briefed then-President Barack Obama in 2016 on an unverified Russian intelligence report.
The report claimed Clinton planned in July 2016 on tying then-candidate Trump to Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee to distract from the controversy surrounding her improper use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
Nick Merrill, a spokesperson for Clinton, said at the time the claims were “baseless bullshit.” Brennan also criticized Ratcliffe for engaging in “selective declassification of information that clearly is designed to advance the political interests of Donald Trump and Republicans who are aligned with him.”
The former CIA director also stressed that, “if, in fact, what the Russians were alleging, that Hillary was trying to highlight the reported connections between Trump and the Russians, if, in fact, that was accurate, and that’s a big if, there is nothing at all illegal about that.”
A former politician, Ratcliffe agreed that campaigns often engage in dirty tricks. But he went on to argue that what Durham is looking into could extend far beyond just underhanded political trickery and into the sphere of illegal actions.
He then referred to Durham’s charges against former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who has been accused of falsely telling the FBI’s top lawyer that he wasn’t representing any clients when he was acting on behalf of a tech executive and Clinton’s campaign during a September 2016 meeting in which information and white papers containing potential ties between the Trump Organization and the Kremlin-aligned Alfa Bank were discussed.
Sussmann, who has entered a plea of not guilty, has also acknowledged he provided similar information to another government agency in February 2017, just a few weeks after Trump was inaugurated. That agency is believed to be the CIA.
In a Feb. 11 filing, Durham revealed that he has obtained evidence that Sussmann’s tech client is Rodney Joffe, formerly of Newstar, “exploited” domain name system (DNS) internet traffic at Trump Tower, his New York City Central Park West apartment building, and “the Executive Office of the President of the United States,” which includes the White House.
“What is illegal is that when you create a false narrative and then you take it to the FBI and the CIA and peddle it as real, hoping to authenticate it by opening an investigation, that’s all sorts of criminal activity,” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor, told Levin.
“It starts with lying to federal agents, for which Michael Sussmann and others have been charged, 18 US Code § 1001 counts, but it goes all the way up to conspiracy, possibly even to racketeering, to RICO charges,” he added.
Clinton has denied the allegations. Attorneys for Sussmann have asked a court to strike a portion of Durham’s filing, claiming it could taint a jury.
Durham responded to the Sussmann legal filing by saying there is “no basis” for a court to grant the request, noting that the portion Sussmann wants to be stricken is “central to proving” Sussmann’s “alleged criminal conduct.”