The documents are the latest in a series of disclosures by Ratcliffe to Republicans in Congress seeking to back up claims by Trump and his allies that the FBI’s investigation into Trump was politically motivated and corrupt.
Agents’ decision to monitor the briefing appeared to be aimed at gleaning information from Trump’s close adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who attended the briefing with Trump, and then from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was the chief of Trump’s transition team at time. Flynn was named “Crossfire Razor” by investigators, and the header of the document includes a reference to his case. At the time, Trump had recently secured the Republican presidential nomination.
The summary says that the agent coordinating the briefing, Joe Pientka – also one of the agents who then interviewed Flynn days after Trump’s inauguration in 2017 – paid close attention to any mention Trump or Flynn made. from Russia.
” During the [intelligence] briefs, the writer actively listened to topics or questions concerning the Russian Federation, ”Pientka wrote.
While there have been a few mentions of Russia, it is unclear whether the agents’ approach brought anything significant. At one point, after Trump’s briefers described Chinese and Russian intelligence officers operating in the United States, Trump intervened with a question: “Joe, are the Russians bad” because they have more numbers, are they worse than the Chinese?
“The writer responded by saying that both countries are bad,” Pientka wrote.
Trump also asked which country, Russia or China, was worse when it came to violations of nuclear test bans. According to Pientka, the briefing replied, “They’re both bad, but Russia is worse. “
“Trump and Christie turned to each other and Christie commented, ‘I’m shocked,’” Pientka wrote.
The document, dated August 30, 2016, was drafted two weeks after Trump’s briefing and one month after the FBI launched the investigation into Hurricane Crossfire. It was endorsed by one of the lead investigators, Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages during the campaign fueled Trump’s claims that the investigation was a “hoax.”
It was also endorsed by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused by the Justice Department’s Inspector General of processing an email that was used to obtain a watch warrant against the former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
Pientka’s contemporary notes from the briefing have also been declassified. They include a general overview of the topics that were discussed.
During the meeting, FBI officials warned Trump that foreign agents may try to approach his associates, including family, friends and campaign staff. Although Trump has argued that he was never explicitly warned that the FBI feared some of his closest associates had been compromised – including Flynn and campaign manager Paul Manafort – the record indicates that he and his team have received a general warning about this possibility.
During a discussion of some foreign intelligence capabilities, Flynn mentioned that he had been responsible for signals intelligence during his tenure as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Pientka replied that this should give him a good idea of the capabilities foreign powers could deploy against the United States.
“Trump then said, ‘Yes, I understand this is a dark time,’ Pientka described. “Nothing is more secure on computers. We used to lock things in a room safe. Anyone can now enter. My son is ten years old. He has a computer and we put a password in it. In less than ten minutes, he broke the password. “
In addition to information about Trump’s first intelligence briefing, Ratcliffe declassified a series of emails between Pientka and Strzok on Thursday in which Strzok requests that counter-intelligence agents be included in future briefings.