Worries Grew Of Trump Campaign Contacts To Russia — Ex-CIA Chief
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 16:25
On Aug. 4, as evidence of that campaign mounted, Mr. Brennan warned Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., not to meddle in the election. They're protesting what they say is Trump administration's slow cooperation on the Russian Federation investigations.
Brennan had previously alluded to such fears, telling Fox News' Chris Wallace in mid-January that he didn't think then-President-elect Donald Trump has "a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia's intentions", and that Trump's public displays of contempt for the United States intelligence community could undermine national security.
USA congressional committees and a special counsel named by the Justice Department this month are investigating whether there was Russian interference in the 2016 US election and the possibility of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.
"It raised questions in my mind about whether Russian Federation was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals", he added.
Mr Brennan acknowledged that he still had "unresolved questions" about the objective of those contacts when he stepped down as Central Intelligence Agency director in January.
"I was anxious by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with US persons", he said.
"Many times (Americans) do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian", Brennan said.
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. He told committee members there had not been a good relationship between Putin and the Clintons over the years. Brennan says Bortnikov told him Russian Federation wasn't meddling in USA politics.
Despite his denial, Bortnikov said he would inform Russian President Vladimir Putin of Brennan's concerns, Brennan said. Brennan said that the Central Intelligence Agency at times provided tips about terrorist plots to the Kremlin, but he indicated that Trump violated key protocols.
Brennan said he was unsure if Russia's attempts were successful, and that he could not confirm whether any collusion had transpired.
He also says that before sharing such classified intelligence with foreign partners, the US would go back to the intelligence partner that provided the information to make sure what was shared would not compromise operatives.
Brennan also said he believes that Russian intelligence officials "will try to exploit elections" and present a "serious" threat.
BRENNAN: I'm not going to identify the individuals because this is information that, again, is based on classified sources and intelligence. "I find them appalling and they need to be tracked down", he added.
"I encountered and became aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign", Brennan said. He said they are trying to actively exploit it "to their benefit and our detriment".
Trump's public approval ratings dropped to a new low in Reuters/Ipsos poll data released on Tuesday, with 37 percent of US adults surveyed approving of the president while 57 percent disapproving.
"The cyber-environment now really provides so much more opportunity for troublemaking and the Russians take advantage of it", he said.
In the unclassified version of a memo outlining the overhaul, Brennan said the changes were "driven by two fundamental shifts" in the current national security landscape - an increasing array of complex issues facing policy makers in Washington, as well as the "unprecedented pace and impact of technological advancements", the memo said.
He said Russian Federation used WikiLeaks as a "cut-out", or go-between, and that protests by WikiLeaks that it is not working with Russian Federation and Russia's claims it is not working with WikiLeaks are "disingenuous".
Brennan asked what he would do if president requested that he stop investigation.
During another congressional hearing on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats refused to answer questions on whether President Trump asked him to push back against allegations of collusion with Russian Federation. After pressure from Democrats, Nunes has turned over leading the committee's Russian Federation investigation to Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who is also a CPA.
"I was anxious by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with USA persons", Brennan testified on Tuesday.
Brennan's testimony came in the first public hearing by the House Intelligence Committee since March 20, when then-FBI-Director James Comey shocked the nation with the revelation that the FBI has been investigating a possible Trump team role in Russia's election meddling since July.