A Republican lawmaker is demanding answers from the FBI after emails showed that high-ranking bureau officials were aware that CNN had obtained details about a briefing given to President-elect Donald Trump regarding a scandalous dossier.
Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday and asked a series of questions pertaining to a briefing then-FBI Director James Comey gave to Trump about a dossier put together by a former British spy.
Among the revelations in the letter was that the FBI knew CNN was about to go public with details about the briefing. Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants to know how the news network found out about it and whether the bureau passed that information to reporters.
According to Johnson, then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote an email to senior FBI leaders on January 8, 2017 carrying the subject line "Flood is coming."
"CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story. … The trigger for them [CNN] is they know the material was discussed in the brief and presented in an attachment," McCabe wrote.
Less than an hour after that email, McCabe wrote to then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and then-Principal Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod.
"Just an FYI, and as expected, it seems CNN is close to running a story about the sensitive reporting," McCabe wrote.
Two days later, CNN published a story that said the FBI had briefed Trump about scandalous claims and an alleged relationship he had with the Russians. BuzzFeed News published the complete dossier that same day.
Johnson wants to know, among other things, who at the Department of Justice knew about the dossier and the briefing given to Trump. He also would like to know when the FBI was aware that CNN and other news outlets knew of the dossier's existence.
In his recent book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership," Comey wrote about the briefing he provided to Trump by saying he was dreading the discussion about the salacious claims.
"It made complete sense for me to [brief Trump]. The plan was sensible, if the word applies in the context of talking with a new president about prostitutes in Moscow," Comey wrote. "Still, the plan left me deeply uncomfortable."
Republicans have alleged that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper orchestrated the release of the dossier to members of the media.
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