The documents are the latest in a series of revelations by Ratcliffe to Congress Republicans seeking to support claims by Trump and his allies that the FBI’s investigation into Trump was politically motivated and corrupt.
The agents’ decision to follow the briefing seemed to seek to gather information from Trump’s closest advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who attended the briefing, and then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was the leader of Trump’s transition team was up to date. Flynn was codenamed “Crossfire Razor” by investigators, and the document heading contains a reference to his case. At the time, Trump had recently secured the Republican presidential candidate.
The summary indicates that the agent coordinating the briefing, Joe Pientka – also one of the agents Flynn interviewed later days after Trump’s inauguration in 2017 – paid special attention to any mentions Trump or Flynn made of Russia.
“During the [intelligence] briefs, writer actively listened to topics or questions about the Russian Federation, ”wrote Pientka.
While there were a handful of mentions of Russia, it is unclear whether the agents’ approach yielded 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, the Russians are bad” Because they have more numbers, they are 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 the nuclear test ban. According to Pientka, the briefer replied, “They are both bad, but Russia is worse.”
“Trump and Christie looked at each other and Christie said, ‘I’m shocked,'” Pientka wrote.
The document, dated August 30, 2016, was written two weeks after Trump’s briefing and one month after the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. It was approved by one of the probe’s chief agents, Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages during the campaign fueled Trump’s claims that the investigation was a “hoax.”
It was also approved by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, accused by the Justice Department inspector general of investigating an email used to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page .
Pientka’s simultaneous notes from the briefing were also released. They contain a general overview of the topics discussed.
During the briefing, FBI officials warned Trump that foreign agents might attempt to approach his associates, including family, friends, and campaign personnel. While Trump has claimed that he was never explicitly warned that the FBI was concerned that some of his closest associates had been endangered – including Flynn and campaign leader Paul Manafort – the file indicates that he and his team received a general warning about the possibility.
Speaking to some foreign intelligence agencies, Flynn said he had been responsible for the intelligence agencies during his time as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Pientka replied that this should give him a good idea of the capabilities that foreign powers could deploy against the United States.
“Trump then stated, ‘Yes, I understand it’s a dark time,'” Pientka described. “Nothing is more secure on computers. We always locked things in a safe in a room. Now everyone can board. My son is ten years old. He has a computer and we put a code word on it. He broke the code word within ten minutes. ”
In addition to information on Trump’s first intelligence briefing, Ratcliffe released a series of emails between Pientka and Strzok on Thursday, asking Strzok to include counterintelligence agents in future briefings.