I remember watching the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973 and hearing Senator Howard Baker ask that question. It has again become appropriate, this time related to what the President knew in 2016. John Hinderacker has a post over at PowerlLine examining recently declassified information bearing on that question.
Highly redacted handwritten notes from a briefing CIA Director Brennan gave to President Obama on 28 July, 2016 have been declassified.
The relevant text reads:
We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from….
CITE alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on 26 July of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.
President Obama had several comments or questions, only one of which survives redaction. He wanted to know whether there was any evidence of collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Brennan’s answer to that question isn’t recorded in the notes, but we know from other documents that the fact that there was no such evidence was communicated to Obama. Contributions by Comey, McDonough and Rice are fully redacted.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Brennan’s notes is their date (assuming July 28 is correct). According to the intelligence report, Hillary Clinton approved the plot to smear Trump with the Russia collusion fiction on July 26. Just two days later, the head of the CIA, the FBI Director, the National Security Adviser, the President’s Chief of Staff and the President himself met, presumably in the Oval Office, to discuss the intelligence. The report, picked up by spying on the Russians, who I take it were spying on Hillary, was obviously top priority and was taken seriously by the intelligence community, in the person of Brennan.
What little reporting that has been done on this briefing has focused on either the claim that the Trump/Russia collusion hoax originated inside of the Clinton campaign or the claim that President Obama was informed of the hoax within days of it being launched.
There’s another important angle here. The CIA learned of Clinton plan because it had leaked to the Russians. What are the odds that the same leaker(s)/operative(s) would have been embedded in the inner circle of a Clinton White House staff?
We dodged a very large bullet in 2016.