FACT CHECK: Did The CIA Director Call The Trump Dossier The ‘Foundation’ Of The Russia Investigation?

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed Wednesday that former CIA Director John Brennan “touted” the now-infamous Trump dossier as the basis of the Russia investigation.

Verdict: False

While it’s now clear the intelligence community, the FBI in particular, relied upon the Trump dossier to some extent, Brennan and other intel chiefs have repeatedly downplayed any suggestion that the dossier formed the basis of the Russia investigation.

Fact Check:

Limbaugh made the claim about Brennan while arguing that the entire Russia investigation is predicated upon a discredited dossier. “The director of the CIA during the Obama administration proudly, happily said this dossier formed the basis of his investigation,” said Limbaugh.

But Limbaugh’s recollection contradicts what Brennan has said publicly. “It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence information that we had,” Brennan testified during a House Intelligence Committee hearing in May. “It was not in any way used as a basis for the intelligence community assessment that was done.”

Although Brennan did not tout the dossier as Limbaugh claimed, there are news reports suggesting the FBI relied upon it to some extent for its Russia investigation. Former FBI Director James Comey planned to pay the dossier author to continue his research, and the FBI used the document to obtain a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign associate.

In addition to Brennan, Limbaugh also claimed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other agency heads touted the dossier. He paraphrased Clapper as saying “We were deeply troubled by the contents of this dossier, and it formed the basis and the foundation of our investigation.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation could not find any public remarks from either Clapper or Brennan expressing this sentiment, and the only statements we could find actually downplay the significance of the dossier.

The intelligence community insists that evidence apart from the dossier – including cyber intrusions into the Democratic National Committee and state voter rolls – were the sole basis for concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions,” said Clapper in a statement.

The dossier became public knowledge after a decision by intel chiefs to brief President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump on its contents back in January. Clapper later refused to discredit the dossier despite being allegedly asked by Trump to do so.

Limbaugh did not respond to a request for comment.

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David Sivak

Fact Check Editor
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