Many pundits believe the intelligence community is at war with President-elect Donald Trump.
The number of leaks about briefings received by Trump has infuriated the President-elect and created an air of mistrust between him and the intelligence community.
But what if the real culprit behind the leaks is the Obama administration?
That’s what Senator Tom Cotton believes.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, he pointed the finger at the Obama administration as the leaker.
The Washington Examiner reports:
Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, defended the U.S. intelligence community against charges by Trump that it has leaked information about Trump to the press.
The Senator said that the pattern of the leaks suggests to him that they originated in President Obama‘s White House.
“I suspect these leaks are not coming from our intelligence community but rather are coming from the West Wing, if you look at the pattern of the leaks,” Cotton said. “It occurred in December and occurred last week when the report was delivered to the West Wing — and now this leak about what was briefed to Donald Trump.”
According to reporting by CNN, Trump and Obama were both recently briefed about compromising information that the Russian government might have on the President-elect. Obama and Trump were both told that the information was unsubstantiated, but the intelligence community wanted the President-elect, in particular, to be aware of its existence.
CNN did not publish the unsubstantiated information. But another organization did. Cotton, an attorney, said he believes that media outlet broke U.S. libel law and could be successfully sued.
Cotton’s interview came on the heels of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, releasing a statement condemning the leaks of information included in classified briefings.
“This evening, I had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss recent media reports about our briefing last Friday. I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.
We also discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even before the IC became aware of it. I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. 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. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.
President-elect Trump again affirmed his appreciation for all the men and women serving in the Intelligence Community, and I assured him that the IC stands ready to serve his Administration and the American people.”
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
Trump was referring to a fake news report in Buzzfeed, which printed a 35-page opposition research memo prepared by a former British intelligence officer during the campaign.
The work was first funded by an anti-Trump Republican Super PAC and, later, the Democrats.
The memo included lurid gossip and unproven allegations of the Russians possessing compromising information about Trump.
The memo was included as an addendum to briefing materials for President-elect Trump, but NBC reported he was never briefed on its contents.
Vice President Biden confirmed he and President Obama were briefed on the material.
Many believed the intelligence community was behind the leak, but Clapper denied that charge and Senator Cotton instead pointed at the Obama administration, as they were the ones confirmed to have been informed of the memo.
Trump had previously been infuriated when the information that was to be presented to him in a briefing by the intelligence community on Russia’s alleged role in the release of hacked emails during the 2016 election appeared in the Washington Post and NBC news prior to his being briefed.
This prompted Trump to call for a leak investigation.
I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
Trump’s justified anger prompted Clapper’s statement disavowing responsibility for the leak.
So if it wasn’t the intelligence community, who was the leaker?
Obama has worked tirelessly to undermine Trump’s incoming presidency.
The ones with the means, motive and opportunity to leak damaging intelligence briefing material about Trump to the press reside in the Obama administration.