Russian Federation 'brazenly interfered in our election — Ex CIA Chief

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Russia "brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process", despite USA efforts to warn it off. Brennan testified in an open session of the committee, one of a handful of congressional committees now investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Asked about Trump's decision to share the intelligence, Brennan said that classified intelligence is routinely shared with foreign governments but Trump still could have violated two protocols if he made a spontaneous decision to do so. WikiLeaks released material hacked from email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials during last year's presidential campaign.

Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday he was concerned about the number of contacts between Americans "involved" with the Trump campaign and the Russians a year ago. "And that's why my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do, and I don't know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be", he said.

"I don't know if such collusion - your words - existed", Brennan told the committee.

Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President Elect Trump on that conclusion - which represented the consensus view of the CIA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the office of the Director of National Intelligence. "It was necessary to pull threads", he added. He also said he personally told a senior Russian security official in August that Russia needed to stop interfering in the USA democratic process.

Brennan said the Central Intelligence Agency came to the conclusion that Russian Federation was seeking to influence the election in Trump's favour.

Brennan said party leaders and the leaders of both congressional intelligence committees received briefings about the "active counterintelligence case" in August and September. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and Trump denies any collusion.

"I believe I was the first USA official to brace Russian Federation on this issue", Brennan said.

Mr Brennan explained that Russian intelligence agencies also like to "recruit" businessmen and "rising politicians" in the USA and other foreign countries to indirectly have an influence on that government and to advance Russian oligarchies interests - many of whom back Mr Putin.

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.

Israel's ambassador said in a public statement that Israel still has confidence in its intelligence partnership with the U.S., but Israeli officials said privately that Trump's disclosures to the Russians were "our worst fears confirmed". The hearing was due to go into closed session to discuss classified information after Brennan's public testimony.

Brennan also said he thought Russian Federation cooperated with WikiLeaks through middlemen. Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to act as a special counsel to investigate any possible collusion.

His testimony comes a day after former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to hand over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian interference in the election, in response to a congressional subpoena from that committee.

But Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, questioned him about a Washington Post report Monday that Trump allegedly asked him and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, to publicly dispute that any evidence exists of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. When Sen. John McCain asked about the report, Coats declined to answer. "On this topic, as well as other topics, I don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions, conversations with the president".

"The experts provided regular updates and assessments through the summer and fall, which we used to inform senior USA officials, including President Obama", he said.

"Lives are at stakes in many instances, and leaks jeopardize those lives", Coats said.

  • Leroy Wright