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VA plans mental care for discharged vets, but at what cost?

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin touted new efforts Wednesday to expand urgent mental health care to thousands of former service members with less-than-honorable discharges, even while acknowledging his department isn’t seeking additional money to pay for it.

Testifying at a House hearing, Shulkin offered new details on his initiative announced in March to stem stubbornly high rates of suicide. Stressing a need at that time for “bold action,” he noted the additional coverage would help former service members who are more likely to have mental health distress. Of the 20 veterans who take their lives each day, about 14 had not been connected to VA care.

There are more than 500,000 former service members with other-than-honorable discharges. Still, Shulkin indicated there won’t be much additional spending to pay for the medication, lab work, case management and psychotherapy now being covered.

“There is no higher priority, so we will do this within the funding the president has proposed,” Shulkin told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He did not indicate what other programs could be cut.

“We are not going to let the fact there are not additional monies right now to prevent us from offering these additional services,” Shulkin said.

It was one of several gaps in the VA’s proposed budget that Shulkin acknowledged Wednesday. He also said a massive appeals backlog of more than 400,000 claims from veterans unhappy with their disability payouts will still take nearly 10 years to resolve, even with legislation the House passed on Tuesday. The measure aims to streamline the process, because the budget proposal doesn’t currently account for that. “I don’t really have an answer for you on that backlog,” he said, citing a “new injection of funding to hire more lawyers and support staff” that would be needed.

Separately, the House approved legislation Wednesday to require the VA to fully comply with appointment scheduling practices that followed a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. Some veterans died waiting months for appointments. Wednesday’s vote was 419-0. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Shulkin, meanwhile, announced plans to set up a White House telephone hotline to receive veterans’ complaints about the VA, a key campaign promise from President Donald Trump. Shulkin said a “soft launch” was planned June 1, with “the full White House hotline” operating by the end of August. Trump had pledged “a private White House hotline,” answered by a real person 24 hours a day, to make sure no complaint “falls through the cracks.”

Shulkin said the VA was now contracting with professional call centers. He did not provide an estimate on costs.

Beginning this summer, veterans with “other than honorable” discharges from the military would be able to receive urgent mental health care at a VA emergency room, outpatient clinic or Vet Center. They can also get help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, or texting 838255. “Other than honorable” discharges are typically for misconduct, such as violence or use of illegal drugs, and can prevent veterans from receiving federal benefits.

That proposed program has already stirred questions about scope and cost.

A group of Senate Democrats led by Montana’s Jon Tester asked Shulkin in a letter in March to detail the new services, noting that treatment at VA emergency rooms is already offered to any veteran. The senators said Shulkin’s policy announcement was raising “more questions than answers for veterans in crisis.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who chairs an appropriations panel, also has questioned Shulkin about the price tag, wondering aloud at a hearing earlier this month how the VA could fit “added costs into your budget, when you’re obviously already struggling to cover expenses for your current VA patients.” Shulkin said he didn’t care about costs, but then responded he had no plans to ask for more money.

While as many as 500,000 former service members have “other than honorable” discharges, the VA says a smaller number at risk of suicide will likely seek urgent treatment, and it will only provide emergency care — not preventative services. The coverage also includes up to 90 days of follow-up mental care as part of an “emergency episode.” The Army has dismissed at least 22,000 combat veterans diagnosed with mental health disabilities or traumatic brain injury for alleged misconduct since 2009.

Pressed by lawmakers Wednesday, Shulkin agreed to take a second look at what other coverage he can provide.

He was addressing suicide prevention as he urged Congress to approve Trump’s budget proposal, which calls for a 3.7 percent increase in total VA funding.

The proposal includes $8.4 billion for veterans’ mental health services, an increase of 6 percent from 2017. The VA hopes to hire 1,000 more mental health providers and establish hubs in rural areas to provide veterans with mental health assistance by phone. It also launched a new predictive model to analyze veterans’ health records to identify and reach out to those at risk.

http://bit.ly/2qqAZQG

Ind. adds Medicaid work requirement to waiver request

Indiana on Wednesday said it will ask the Trump administration for permission to add a work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries.

The state posted an amendment to its pending request to renew its conservative Medicaid expansion model, known as Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, for an additional three years. Under the plan, Medicaid enrollees would have to be employed or searching for work in order to be eligible for the program.

The state believes its healthcare costs could go down if the request is approved. “In general, employed individuals are both physically and mentally healthier, as well as more financially stable, as compared to unemployed individuals,” the amendment said.

The state wants to require all able-bodied HIP participants to either work on average 20 hours per week; be enrolled in full-time or part-time education; or participate in a job search and training program in Indiana. The state is accepting comments on the request until June 23.

Several other states have said they will add similar requirements to their Medicaid programs. Maine announced in April that it would ask the CMS for permission to overhaul its Medicaid program and include a work requirement. Kentucky has already submitted its similar request, and Arizona has announced plans to submit one as well. Florida and Ohio lawmakers are drafting legislation to order their state health departments to seek similar waivers that would include work requirement provisions.

HIP 2.0 was developed by CMS Administrator Seema Verma and federal Medicaid director Brian Neale when they worked in the administration of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president; Verma was a consultant and Neale a health policy director.

Under Healthy Indiana 2.0 plan, beneficiaries pay premium contributions, have health savings accounts, get incentives for healthy behaviors, and a face a benefit lockout if they don’t pay premiums.

http://bit.ly/2qn7sLT

India reports Zika cases: WHO

India has reported cases of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization said, adding that efforts should be made to strengthen surveillance.

The WHO said that on May 15 India’s health ministry reported three confirmed cases from the western state of Gujarat. Cases were detected during testing in February and November last year, while one was detected in January this year, according to the statement, which was released on Friday but did not gain public attention until Saturday.

A federal health ministry official said states were following standard protocols and there was “nothing to worry” about. The ministry had in March cited one confirmed case of Zika – from January of this year in Gujarat – while answering a question in India’s parliament.

“These findings suggest low level transmission of Zika virus and new cases may occur in the future,” the WHO said in the statement on its website.

“Zika virus is known to be circulating in South-East Asia Region and these findings do not change the global risk assessment.”

In its most recent outbreak, Zika, which is mainly a mosquito-borne disease, was identified in Brazil in 2015 and has been spreading globally.

When the virus infects a pregnant woman, it can cause a variety of birth defects including microcephaly, where the baby’s head is abnormally small.

http://reut.rs/2rJFoC2

Emergent BioSolutions: Discount ignores growth prospects

Bioterrorism and disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and deadly. One company combating this ever-growing threat is Emergent BioSolutions.

Emergent has a high-profit monopoly on sales of several important biodefense products, a monopoly which is unlikely to be dismantled anytime soon.

Emergent also has a number of potential blockbuster products currently in development, including a next generation anthrax vaccine, a Zika vaccine, and an Ebola vaccine.

Despite all the positives, however, Emergent is currently trading at a wide discount to peers. This is unlikely to last: shares offer 70+% upside potential over the next 24-36 months.

In the aftermath of the anthrax attacks of 2001, the swine flu pandemic of 2009, the Ebola outbreak of 2014, and the recent Zika scare, biodefense is more important than ever. It’s no surprise that governments across the globe consistently place it at or near the top of their national-security agendas. In the U.S., one of the major players in this area is Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE:EBS).

Business Overview

Founded in 1998, Emergent develops, manufactures, and sells medical countermeasures for biological and chemical threats as well as emerging infectious diseases. The company’s revenue is divided into three components: product sales (~63% of revenue), contracts and grant awards (~26%), and contract manufacturing (~12%). This report will mainly focus on the first two components as these represent Emergent’s core business.

Product sales revenue is primarily derived via multi-year government procurement contracts. Over 70% of product revenue comes from BioThrax, which is a pre- and post-exposure vaccine for anthrax, a deadly disease caused by a bacteria that lives in soil. The balance of product revenue comes from Anthrasil (treats inhalational anthrax), BAT (treats botulinum disease), VIGIV (treats smallpox vaccination complications), RSDL (chemical warfare decontamination device), and Trobigard (nerve agent antidote auto-injector device).

All of these products, with the exception of Trobigard which is currently only sold outside the U.S., have been FDA approved and currently face no direct competition. Three of these products have even been granted “orphan drug” status, giving them a seven-year period of market exclusivity. BioThrax has exclusivity through November 2022, Anthrasil through December 2022, and BAT through March 2020. This sales monopoly gives Emergent a substantial competitive advantage.

It’s an advantage that should strengthen over time as Emergent diversifies its product offerings. The company receives substantial R&D funding primarily from the U.S. government for the development of new biodefense products. Right now it has six products in various stages of development, including a next generation anthrax vaccine (nearing Phase III), a Zika vaccine (nearing Phase I), and an Ebola vaccine (in pre-clinical development).

Growth

Through a combination of small synergistic acquisitions and organic growth, Emergent’s revenue has increased from $45 million in 2001 (earliest available data) to $489 million in 2016 – an impressive 15-year CAGR of 17%. By 2020, management projects revenue will hit $1 billion, which equates to a slightly accelerated ~20% CAGR going forward. This seems like a very achievable goal for several reasons:

  • The largely contract-based nature of Emergent’s business makes its revenue relatively predictable. Thanks to its biodefense monopoly, strong government relationships, and long history of contract wins, the current business should be able to operate at an annual revenue run rate of around $500 million (management’s 2017 guidance well exceeds this figure). At least $200 million of this will likely come from BioThrax (guidance is ~$275 million in 2017). Emergent has entered into several contracts in recent months, the two largest for the delivery of BioThrax to the Strategic National Stockpile over a five-year period ending September 2021. The combined value of these two contracts alone, assuming all procurement options are exercised, is approximately $1 billion.
  • New product introductions will drive growth. The most significant near-term driver will be NuThrax, Emergent’s next-generation anthrax vaccine. It’s superior to BioThrax in that it’s designed to give post-exposure protection in fewer doses. BioThrax’s pre-exposure indication, however, means there will be continued demand for it, particularly from military personnel. That said, NuThrax has been granted fast track status by the FDA and will likely be authorized for emergency use as early as 2018, triggering deliveries of NuThrax to the Strategic National Stockpile as early as 2019. Emergent has already received a $1.5 billion contract for procurement of this new vaccine, and will likely win additional contracts in the near future.
  • International expansion is another key growth driver. Only 4% of Emergent’s revenue came from outside the U.S. in 2016. However, due to the exponential rise in terror deaths over the last year, the international market for medical countermeasures is booming right now. As a result, management expects ex-U.S. revenue to more than double in 2017. For instance, orders for Trobigard (a nerve agent antidote auto-injector) have exceeded Emergent’s 2017 supply capacity. The company plans to double its manufacturing capacity by the end of the year and triple it in 2018. By 2020, over 10% of Emergent’s revenue is expected to come from outside the U.S.
  • Management plans to deploy Emergent’s growing cash pile to make acquisitions. Targets include businesses and revenue generating products in the vaccines, therapeutics, and devices spaces, as well as pipeline candidates that can be acquired with grant and contract funding that will contribute to the company’s revenue. Management expects to make at least one meaningful acquisition in 2017.

Profitability

Emergent’s EBIT margin has hovered around the low 20s% range in recent years. However, due to a number of unusual costs, mainly related to the Aptevo (NASDAQ:APVO) spin-off and the transition of BioThrax manufacturing to a new facility, trailing 12 month EBIT margin has fallen well below that range to 19.7%. All combined, non-recurring items totaled $18.3 million. Adding this back gets us an EBIT of $117.6 million and an EBIT margin of 23.4%. This adjusted (or non-GAAP) EBIT reflects a much more accurate picture of Emergent’s earnings power.

Note: Revenue and EBIT exclude the impact of the operations associated with Aptevo which was spun-off on August 1, 2016.

Sources: A North Investments, company reports

Various cost saving initiatives should substantially expand this earnings power going forward. One significant initiative, for instance, is to remove redundancies by centralizing Emergent’s administrative operations, which is expected to result in annual cost savings of $20 million. On the whole, management’s goal is to by 2020 reduce SG&A expense to less than 25% of revenue (currently at ~29%) and R&D spend to less than 15% of revenue (currently at ~26%). This would drive EBIT margin up to the high 20s%, assuming gross margins remain stable.

Risks

All investments come with some level of risk, and Emergent is no exception. Here are the key risks to consider before buying this stock:

  • The U.S. government accounts for well over 80% of total revenue. Though it’s unlikely to happen given Emergent’s current monopoly and the rising threat of bioterrorism, if by some chance the government’s demand for the company’s products is substantially reduced, its business would be seriously harmed.
  • Potential competition is a long-term risk. Five out of six of Emergent’s products currently face zero competition. Three even have exclusivity and won’t face any competition for the next several years. But this won’t last forever. The question is when, not if, competition will roll in and chip away at Emergent’s monopoly.
  • A substantial portion of Emergent’s future growth will be driven via acquisitions. While the company has a solid track record of successfully integrating past acquisitions, future ones might not go smoothly; any missteps could significantly hurt its business.

Valuation

With an enterprise value to EBIT (or EV/EBIT) of just over 10x, compared to nearly 27x for the median biotech and medtech peer, Emergent is significantly mispriced right now. While a small discount can perhaps be justified to account for the company’s significant customer and product concentration, a 60+% discount is absurd as it completely ignores its robust growth prospects, substantial margin expansion potential, and monopoly on the sale of crucially needed biodefense products.

Notes: 1) EV = market cap – cash and short-term investments + total debt and capital leases + preferred stock + minority interest. 2) EBITs exclude non-recurring items. 3) Peers only include profitable biotechs and medtechs.

Sources: A North Investments, company reports

Taking both the positives and negatives into consideration, I believe Emergent can comfortably support an 18x EV/EBIT multiple (a still ~33% discount to peers). This translates to a very conservative fair value estimate of just over $52/share, which represents over 70% upside from recent price levels.

Conclusion

Emergent is positioned to deliver high-teens revenue growth on the back of increasing global biodefense spending, new product introductions, and M&A. Profits should grow even faster as margins expand due to cost saving efforts. Despite all this, however, Emergent currently trades at a wide discount to peers. This discount is unlikely to persist for long. Investors who buy the stock under $31/share will likely reap substantial long-term gains. Valuation points to upside of at least 70% over the next 24-36 months.

http://bit.ly/2r81xYa

Mind-controlled devices stroke patients retrain brains

mindcontroll

Medical resident Jarod Roland, MD, tries out a device that detects electrical activity in his brain and causes his hand to open and close in response to brain signals. 

Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralyzed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

By mentally controlling the device with the help of a -computer interface, participants trained the uninjured parts of their brains to take over functions previously performed by injured areas of the brain, the researchers said.

“We have shown that a using the uninjured hemisphere can achieve meaningful recovery in chronic patients,” said Eric Leuthardt, MD, a professor of neurosurgery, of neuroscience, of biomedical engineering, and of mechanical engineering & applied science, and the study’s co-senior author.

The study is published May 26 in the journal Stroke.

Stroke is the leading cause of acquired disability among adults. About 700,000 people in the United States experience a stroke every year, and 7 million are living with the aftermath.

In the first weeks after a stroke, people rapidly recover some abilities, but their progress typically plateaus after about three months.

“We chose to evaluate the device in patients who had their first stroke six months or more in the past because not a lot of gains are happening by that point,” said co-senior author Thy Huskey, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and program director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Center of Excellence at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. “Some lose motivation. But we need to continue working on finding technology to help this neglected patient population.”

David Bundy, PhD, the study’s first author and a former graduate student in Leuthardt’s lab, worked to take advantage of a quirk in how the brain controls movement of the limbs. In general, areas of the brain that control movement are on the opposite side of the body from the limbs they control. But about a decade ago, Leuthardt and Bundy, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at University of Kansas Medical Center, discovered that a small area of the brain played a role in planning movement on the same side of the body.

To move the left hand, they realized, specific electrical signals indicating movement planning first appear in a motor area on the left side of the brain. Within milliseconds, the right-sided motor areas become active, and the movement intention is translated into actual contraction of muscles in the hand.

A person whose left hand and arm are paralyzed has sustained damage to the motor areas on the right side of the brain. But the left side of the person’s brain is frequently intact, meaning many stroke patients can still generate the electrical signal that indicates an intention to move. The signal, however, goes nowhere since the area that executes the movement plan is out of commission.

Mind-controlled device helps stroke patients retrain brains to move paralyzed hands
The Ipsihand detects electrical signals in the uninjured part of the brain (green), and opens and closes a plastic brace fitted onto the paralyzed hand (green). By doing so, it helps train the uninjured brain areas to take over functions.

“The idea is that if you can couple those motor signals that are associated with moving the same-sided limb with the actual movements of the hand, new connections will be made in your brain that allow the uninjured areas of your brain to take over control of the paralyzed hand,” Leuthardt said.

That’s where the Ipsihand, a device developed by Washington University scientists, comes in. The Ipsihand comprises a cap that contains electrodes to detect electrical signals in the brain, a computer that amplifies the signals, and a movable brace that fits over the paralyzed hand. The device detects the wearer’s intention to open or close the paralyzed hand, and moves the hand in a pincer-like grip, with the second and third fingers bending to meet the thumb.

“Of course, there’s a lot more to using your arms and hands than this, but being able to grasp and use your opposable thumb is very valuable,” Huskey said. “Just because your arm isn’t moving exactly as it was before, it’s not worthless. We can still interact with the world with the weakened arm.”

Leuthardt played a key role in elucidating the basic science and developing the technology behind the Ipsihand. He co-founded the company Neurolutions Inc. to continue developing the Ipsihand and serves on the company’s board of directors. Neurolutions funded this study.

To test the Ipsihand, Huskey recruited moderately to severely impaired stroke patients and trained them to use the device at home. The participants were encouraged to use the device at least five days a week, for 10 minutes to two hours a day. Thirteen patients began therapy, but three dropped out due to unrelated health issues, poor fit of the device or inability to comply with the time commitment. Ten patients completed the study.

Participants underwent a standard motor skills evaluation at the start of the study and every two weeks throughout. The test measured their ability to grasp, grip and pinch with their hands, and to make large motions with their arms. Among other things, participants were asked to pick up a block and place it atop a tower, fit a tube around a smaller tube, and move their hands to their mouths. Higher scores indicated better function.

After 12 weeks of using the device, the patients’ scores increased an average of 6.2 points on a 57-point scale.

“An increase of six points represents a meaningful improvement in quality of life,” Leuthardt said. “For some people, this represents the difference between being unable to put on their pants by themselves and being able to do so.”

Each participant also rated his or her ability to use the affected arm and his or her satisfaction with the skills. Self-reported abilities and satisfaction significantly improved over the course of the study.

How much each patient improved varied, and the degree of improvement did not correlate with time spent using the device. Rather, it correlated with how well the device read brain signals and converted them into movements.

“As the technology to pick up brain signals gets better, I’m sure the will be even more effective at helping recover some function,” Huskey said.

Explore further: Stroke patients take the lead in their rehabilitation

http://bit.ly/2s8lsoV

Open genetic screening for hereditary breast cancer feasible, effective

Ashkenazi Jewish women are known to have a predisposition to the inherited breast cancers BRCA1 and BRCA2, but currently genetic testing in this group is limited to women affected by breast and ovarian cancers and those who are unaffected but have a family history of the disease.

Ms Sari Lieberman, a genetic counsellor at the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Israel, will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics tomorrow (Sunday) that offering open-access BRCA testing to Ashkenazi unaffected by , regardless of their family , enables the identification of carriers who would otherwise have been missed. Carrying one of the mutations for the BRCA genes means that women affected have a 50-80% risk of developing breast cancer and a 20-50% risk for ovarian cancer.

“We knew that half of these carriers have no family history of cancer, and therefore would not have been identified had the test been offered on the current personal and family history criteria,” she says. “As a genetic counsellor, it is frustrating and saddening to see the results of this policy, where patients are often only identified as BRCA carriers once they have been diagnosed with cancer.”

The researchers streamlined the pre-test process so that traditional genetic counselling, which can be time-consuming and difficult, was excluded. Instead they provided written information about the BRCA genes, the genetic test, and about the implications of being a carrier.

“Current strategies for testing focus on women who are 50 and older, which is not the optimal age for effective prevention. In order to address this, we would like to continue this study and look for other approaches that could include younger women,” says Ms Lieberman.participants in the study either referred themselves or were recruited by health professionals. Two-year follow up of the 1771 women tested included looking at psychosocial outcomes and health behaviours. Both groups reported a high level of satisfaction (94%) and low stress. Those who had referred themselves tended to be more knowledgeable about breast cancer issues than those who were recruited.

“Among the 25 women carriers we identified, 94% expressed satisfaction and 92% endorsed the idea of population screening. Their stress was understandably higher, but it declined over time, and their knowledge was greater than in non-carriers. All of them had breast surveillance, and three underwent risk-reducing bilateral mastectomy. Of those aged over 40, fifteen out of a total of 16 had their ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed in order to reduce risk,” Ms Lieberman reports.

The researchers say that their study provides convincing evidence that open access genetic testing overcomes major barriers; not just lack of family history, but also referral and bureaucratic barriers, and that it is acceptable to those likely to be affected and their families.

“We were concerned that ‘low risk’ participants, with no family history, might not be able to cope with being offered BRCA testing and particularly with positive test results. We also worried that being found not to be a carrier might provide false reassurance and cause women to think they had no cancer risk and therefore avoid standard surveillance. We were pleasantly surprised on both counts,” Ms Lieberman will say. In fact, mammography screening rates did not decline post-test in non-carriers, and even increased in some.

Falling prices for genetic sequencing and new techniques to avoid evaluating irrelevant gene variants will most likely make mutation screening available to wider populations in the near future. “We believe that our results are useful and highly relevant for other populations. On a personal note, I hope that this new approach means that one day I will not have to counsel someone with no history and therefore no awareness of increased risk who says to me that she only wished she had known before,” Ms Lieberman will conclude.

Chair of the ESHG conference, Professor Joris Veltman, Director of the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom, said: “This important study highlights the importance of population-wide genetic screening to identify women at risk of developing breast and because of a genetic predisposition. The study also showed that most people cope very well with this genetic information; carriers of these mutations undertake breast cancer surveillance, whereas non-carriers are aware they can still develop cancer.”

Explore further: Significant increase in number of women tested for BRCA gene, but many high-risk patients still missing out

http://bit.ly/2r7WarK

How Team Obama tried to hack the election

New revelations have surfaced that the Obama administration abused intelligence during the election by launching a massive domestic-spy campaign that included snooping on Trump officials.

The irony is mind-boggling: Targeting political opposition is long a technique of police states like Russia, which Team Obama has loudly condemned for allegedly using its own intelligence agencies to hack into our election.

The revelations, as well as testimony this week from former Obama intel officials, show the extent to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized intelligence against Americans.

Thanks to Circa News, we now know the National Security Agency under President Barack Obama routinely violated privacy protections while snooping through foreign intercepts involving US citizens — and failed to disclose the breaches, prompting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a month before the election to rebuke administration officials.

The story concerns what’s known as “upstream” data collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which the NSA looks at the content of electronic communication. Upstream refers to intel scooped up about third parties: Person A sends Person B an e-mail mentioning Person C. Though Person C isn’t a party to the e-mail, his information will be scooped up and potentially used by the NSA.

Further, the number of NSA data searches about Americans mushroomed after Obama loosened rules for protecting such identities from government officials and thus the reporters they talk to.

The FISA court called it a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” that NSA analysts — in violation of a 2011 rule change prohibiting officials from searching Americans’ information without a warrant — “had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

A number of those searches were made from the White House, and included private citizens working for the Trump campaign, some of whose identities were leaked to the media. The revelations earned a stern rebuke from the ACLU and from civil-liberties champion Sen. Rand Paul.

We also learned this week that Obama intelligence officials really had no good reason attaching a summary of a dossier on Trump to a highly classified Russia briefing they gave to Obama just weeks before Trump took office.

Under congressional questioning Tuesday, Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan said the dossier did not “in any way” factor into the agency’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election. Why not? Because as Obama intel czar James Clapper earlier testified, “We could not corroborate the sourcing.”

But that didn’t stop Brennan in January from attaching its contents to the official report for the president. He also included the unverified allegations in the briefing he gave Hill Democrats.

In so doing, Brennan virtually guaranteed that it would be leaked, which it promptly was.

In short, Brennan politicized raw intelligence. In fact, he politicized the entire CIA.

Langley vets say Brennan was the most politicized director in the agency’s history. Former CIA field-operations officer Gene Coyle said Brennan was “known as the greatest sycophant in the history of the CIA, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the election. I find it hard to put any real credence in anything that the man says.”

Coyle noted that Brennan broke with his predecessors who stayed out of elections. Several weeks before the vote, he made it very clear he was pulling for Hillary. His deputy Mike Morell even came out and publicly endorsed her in The New York Times, claiming Trump was an “unwitting agent” of Moscow.

Brennan isn’t just a Democrat. He’s a radical leftist who in 1980 — during the height of the Cold War — voted for a Communist Party candidate for president.

When Brennan rants about the dangers of strongman Vladimir Putin targeting our elections and subverting our democratic process, does he not catch at least a glimpse of his own reflection?

What he and the rest of the Obama gang did has inflicted more damage on the integrity of our electoral process than anything the Russians have done.

http://nyp.st/2rs0EfM