Thursday, 12 December, 2019

House Intelligence Hearing With John Brennan

Christy Curtis | 24 May, 2017, 04:20

The former head of the CIA, John Brennan, personally warned his Russian counterpart against interfering in the US election, Brennan told lawmakers Tuesday.

WASHINGTON ― The former head of the CIA said he has seen intelligence about interactions between President Donald Trump's campaign associates and Russian officials that made him believe there was a need for the ongoing FBI investigation into possible collusion.

During his opening statement, Brennan recalled a phone call with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's security service, in August 2016, when he mentioned published reports about Russian interference in the election.

Mr Brennan, who was President Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency director, said he couldn't say whether there was collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, an issue being investigated by congressional committees and now a federal special counsel.

He cited "information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and USA persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals" as evidence.

This is a developing story. "So we knew at the time that the Russians were involved in this effort to try to interfere in our election, so with that backdrop, and increasing indications that they were involved with that, seeing these types of contacts and interactions during the same period of time raised my concern", he said.

Coats said he would not discuss conversation he might have had with the President. You bet, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan told a House panel investigating the issue.

"That doesn't help us a lot", Gowdy said.

Brennan said protocol requires that any sharing of classified information with foreign governments be done through intelligence channels, not from the president to visiting officials.

Mr. Brennan said he didn't know if these contacts by people tied to Mr. Trump's campaign amounted to "collusion" with Russian officials, but said that a common Russian intelligence technique involved cultivating Americans as either witting or unwitting intelligence assets.

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"I said that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election, cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption", Brennan said.

Sensitive information should only be passed through intelligence services, not divulged to foreign ministers or ambassadors, Brennan said.

The nation's intelligence director says he won't comment on a news report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

Alarmed by the Russian efforts, Brennan coordinated experts from the CIA, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation in late July to focus on the presidential election, he said.

The Senate intelligence committee asked Flynn and three other Trump campaign associates for documents, including lists of meetings he had with the Russians during the campaign.

"They (the Russians) try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including US persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly", he said, adding that "individuals going on a treasonous path often do not realize it until it is too late".

Now, as Republicans on the committee were quick to note, Brennan wasn't saying that he believed that the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russian Federation.

The Post, citing current and former officials, said Coats and NSA Director Mike Rogers refused Trump's request.

Brennan cautioned lawmakers that although he could not definitively say if those contacts amounted to "collusion", he knew that Russians were actively cultivating U.S. contacts and, very likely, did not present themselves as Russian spies.

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