Ex-CIA chief Brennan says Trump-Russia inquiry 'well-founded'

The CIA alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to a troubling pattern of contacts between Russian officials and associates of the Trump campaign previous year, former agency director John Brennan has testified, shedding new light on the origin of a criminal probe that now reaches into the White House.

But Brennan testified on Tuesday that the Kremlin "brazenly interfered" in last year's presidential election and "they clearly had a more favorable view of Trump". Brennan said he believed he was the first USA official to raise the matter of election interference with the Russians, citing a meeting he had on August 4 with FSB head Alexander Bortnikov.

As the investigation into whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election has gained traction, some have speculated Trump might have worked with the Russians without knowing it.

Because Russia uses intermediaries and other measures to disguise its hand, "many times, (U.S. individuals) do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian", Brennan said.

The US intelligence community concluded in January that Russian Federation tried to influence the presidential election in favor of Trump, including by launching an extensive hacking campaign against senior Democrats.

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is surrounded by reporters as he leaves a briefing of the full Senate by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, amid controversy over President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, a.

Three current and former American officials tell the Times that American spies collected information that the Russians were targeting two of Trump's closest advisers, Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Giving classified information about terrorism matters to Russian Federation is not by itself remarkable - Brennan has done so himself, he said - but there are protocols for doing so. John Brennan testified on Tuesday.

Trump-Russia scandal: How did we get here?

The Senate intelligence committee also has issued subpoenas to Flynn to get him to cooperate.

The ability of Americans to chose their elected leaders is an inalienable right that should be protected with all US resources, authority and power, and many Americans have lost their lives fighting to protect these liberties, Brennan added.

Brennan balked at addressing the notion of evidence, saying his role was in intelligence gathering, not determining what could be used as evidence in a criminal matter.

Dan Coats, the current US director of national intelligence, declined to comment Tuesday on a Washington Post report that said the president had asked him to publicly deny any collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign.

Former CIA chief Brennan's testimony to the House intelligence committee was the clearest public indication yet of the significance the Russian Federation contacts play in counterintelligence investigations that continue to hang over the White House.

It lays out the case for Flynn, the former national security adviser, to invoke his right against self-incrimination.

"And so therefore I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues", Brennan said.

Brennan said that he can not say definitively there was actual collusion. It's starting to appear that the further we dig, the deeper the vodka-soaked rabbit hole goes.

Separately, ABC News reported that Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, would testify on June 6 before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

"Mr. chairman, as the president's principal intelligence adviser, I'm fortunate to spend a significant amount of time with the president discussing national security interests and intelligence as it relates to those interests".

I don't know whether or not such collusion - and that's your term - such collusion existed.

Despite his denial, Bortnikov said he would inform Russian President Vladimir Putin of Brennan's concerns, Brennan said.

  • Leroy Wright