• John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said in a letter released Tuesday that the intelligence community referred Hillary Clinton to the FBI for investigation in September 2016 over an alleged plan to link Donald Trump to Russia’s election-meddling efforts.
  • Ratcliffe also revealed in the letter that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA, wrote of the Clinton plan in his notes in July 2016. 
  • Russian intelligence may also have been aware of the Clinton campaign’s plan, according to Ratcliffe. 

U.S. intelligence officials referred Hillary Clinton to the FBI for investigation in September 2016 over an alleged plan to link Donald Trump to Russia’s election interference efforts in order to distract from the controversy surrounding her private email server, according to John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence.

Ratcliffe revealed the existence of 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 Obama in late July 2016 about Clinton’s approval of a plan to link Trump to Russia’s election-meddling efforts.

Ratcliffe said in the letter that on Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded a referral for an investigation regarding Clinton to then-FBI Director James Comey and Peter Strzok, the deputy chief of counterintelligence.

Ratcliffe’s letter does not describe the information underlying the Clinton referral or the alleged plan to target Trump.

Ratcliffe quotes the referral as dealing 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. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and FBI did not respond to requests for comment.

Clinton’s campaign authorized hiring an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to investigate Donald 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 a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

While the Russian government hacked emails from the DNC and 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 that 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.

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.

The letter does not make it clear whether the term “Russian intelligence analysis” refers to intelligence activities conducted by the U.S. or by Russia.

Ratcliffe said that Brennan’s handwritten notes from a briefing to Obama refer to the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”

Graham said in a statement that Ratcliffe is making the underlying information available for review in a classified setting.

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