Under John Brennan, the CIA operated as an opposition research outfit for the Hillary Clinton campaign. It appears from leaked news stories in the British press that Brennan’s oafish spying on Trump began around April 2016, right after Trump’s biggest primary victories. As it became urgently clear to Brennan that Trump was going to face off against Hillary, Brennan turned to “intelligence partners” in Europe for dirt on Trump. But they didn’t have any, save some pretty skimpy material on “contacts” between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
Whatever Brennan collected was so insubstantial that Robert Mueller hasn’t even interviewed him about it. Consider that for a second: Mueller was supposedly appointed to complete the counterintelligence probe into Trumpworld, and he hasn’t felt the need to talk to the father of it. Brennan has tried to explain this astonishing discrepancy away by vaguely saying that whatever Mueller needs he could find in “CIA files.”
Those files are no doubt as elliptical as the formal document starting the probe. It appears that Brennan’s alleged “tips” were too flaky and unofficial for the Obama administration to commit to print. Brennan had his own partisan hunches, fueled by his feverish hatred of Trump and perhaps a few spit-balling conversations with other Trump-hating spy chiefs abroad (the “special relationship” had turned sinister against Trump, as evident from Britain’s sorry role in this mess), but he had no evidence to meet any reasonable threshold for a counterintelligence probe of a presidential campaign, especially one undertaken by an administration supporting that candidate’s opponent. Brennan’s espionage against Trump was as audacious as a paranoid LBJ wiretapping Nixon’s campaign plane in the thick of a race against LBJ’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey.
In his own clumsy way, Brennan knew that he was treading on a political minefield. He referred to the FBI/CIA’s spying on the Trump campaign as an “exceptionally, exceptionally sensitive issue.” That helpful crumb comes from Russian Roulette, the book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff.