Is Brennan going to skate in Durham's investigation?
I confess that I had been hoping that former CIA chief John Brennan would serve as a kind of satanas ex machina, whose prosecution for his role in plotting spying against the Trump campaign and a coup against the Trump administration would reveal the depth of the greatest political scandal in American history. But I was among the many conservatives who were shocked and dismayed yesterday when John Brennan's longtime associate Nick Shapiro released a statement following eight hours of the former CIA chief's testimony to the John Durham investigation. Politico's Natasha Bertrand, who also serves as an MSNBC contributor, was chosen as the vehicle for releasing Brennan's spin, including the revelation that "Brennan was informed by Mr. Durham that he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation and that he is only a witness to events that are under review."
Just in: John Brennan’s spokesman says Brennan was interviewed earlier today by John Durham, who told Brennan “that he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation and that he is only a witness to events that are under review.” Full statement: pic.twitter.com/tgYXpvdkIN
There has been no comment from Durham's people.
If we assume that Shapiro is telling the truth, we must assume that the probe has decided that prosecuting Brennan before a D.C. jury was unlikely to be successful. The foremost opportunity for a prosecution would have been for perjury in Brennan's May 23, 2017 testimony under oath to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), in which he denied that the CIA used the Steele Dossier as a basis for the Intelligence Community Assessment of early January 2016 that claimed that Russia had tried to elect Donald Trump.
Sundance of The Conservative Treehouse excerpts that testimony:
GOWDY: Director Brennan, do you know who commissioned the Steele dossier?
BRENNAN: I don't.
GOWDY: Do you know if the bureau [FBI] ever relied on the Steele dossier as part of any court filing, applications?
BRENNAN: I have no awareness.
GOWDY: Did the CIA rely on it?
GOWDY: Why not?
BRENNAN: Because we didn't. It wasn't part of the corpus of intelligence information that we had. It was not in any way used as a basis for the Intelligence Community Assessment that was done. Uh … it was not.
The problem with this testimony is that it is contradicted by the reported contents of an email from the FBI's James Comey that stated, "Brennan is insisting the Crown Material [the name used by FBI agents in the 2016 investigation for the Steele Dossier] be included in the intel assessment."
An email from Comey would not be under oath, but it may be that Comey is being targeted by the Durham investigators, who are using Brennan's testimony against him. We do not know what they spoke about for eight hours. The fact that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith copped a plea and likely is testifying against higher-ups may support the suspicion that Comey is the one being targeted.
Because the Durham investigation has been leak-proof, we have no idea of what is actually being targeted for criminal prosecution. But the challenge of finding prosecutable crimes whose evidence would be so clear cut as to convince a D.C. jury is formidable.
Also keep in mind that there are two other U.S. attorneys probing related matters: John Huber of Utah and John Bash of the Western District of Texas. Because those probes are also behaving lawfully and not leaking, we don't know whom or what they may be targeting for prosecution.
Correction: Clinesmith pleaded guilty to a felony. I am grateful to Mark Wauk for explaining:
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.