At the heart of the conspiracy against Trump was "the Sensitive Matter Team"
Newly-examined emails among high-ranking U.S. intel officials at the time—including then-Director James Comey and his chief of staff James Rybicki—reference a “sensitive matter team.”Sen. Johnson has asked the FBI to identify all the members of the "sensitive matter" team. Most of them appear to have already departed or been fired. What the discussion shows is that reports that the briefing to Trump appears to be a set up appear to be accurate. There appears to have been collusion between members of this team and at least CNN. It also looks like Sally AYates was at the heart of this consiracy. She should be asked if she were acting on behalf of Obama.
Based on the context of the emails, the “sensitive matter” appears to be the Trump-Russia narrative, and political opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The research— known as the “Steele dossier”— was peddled to the press and secretly used, in part, to justify controversial FBI wiretaps against at least one Trump associate.
According to Sen. Johnson’s letter, Comey chief of staff Rybicki emailed unidentified recipients on the morning of Jan. 6, 2017 stating, “[Director Comey] is coming to HQ briefly now for an update on the sensitive matter team.”
Later in the day, Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a few of the salacious, unverified allegations in the Steele dossier. The next day, Comey reported on his briefing in an email to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI General Counsel James Baker and Chief of Staff Rybicki. (All four men have since resigned or been fired from the FBI.)
“I said there was something [Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper wanted me to speak to [President Elect Trump] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey wrote in the email. “I then executed the session exactly as I had planned…I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook.” (Clapper now works as a CNN contributor.)
A day later, Jan. 8, FBI Deputy Director McCabe emailed Comey and Rybicki with the subject title: “Flood is coming.”
“CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story,” McCabe wrote. “The trigger for them is they know the material was discussed in the [presidential] brief and presented in an attachment.”
Also included on that email were FBI associate deputy director David Bowdich and FBI assistant director for public affairs Michael Kortan. (Bowdich was recently appointed FBI Deputy Director. Kortan retired in February and had also served as an aide to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating alleged Trump-Russia collusion.)
Within an hour of the “Flood is coming” email, McCabe emailed then-Deputy General Sally Yates and her top aide, Principal Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, with the subject title “News.” (Yates has since been fired and Axelrod resigned.)
“Just an FYI, and as expected, it seems CNN is close to running a story about the sensitive reporting.”