Brennan says he had concerns about Russian contacts with Trump campaign
- Author: Leroy Wright May 26, 2017,
May 26, 2017, 17:39
JOHN BRENNAN: I don't know whether or not such collusion - and that's your term - such collusion existed.
Cortney wrote about former CIA Director John Brennan saying that possible collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign was "well founded", and that they wanted to interfere in our election. Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to act as a special counsel to investigate any possible collusion.
However, he said there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that warranted further investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine "whether U.S. persons were actively colluding".
In a statement issued from Rome, where Trump landed Tuesday on the third leg of his overseas trip, a White House spokesman said the day's hearings offered no evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
On Wednesday morning, the top Democrat on the committee said it would subpoena Flynn in its probe into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election after he declined to appear before the panel.
"Frequently, individuals who go along the treasonous path do not even realize they're along that path until it gets to be a bit too late", Brennan told the committee.
He said Russian Federation denied any attempts to interfere.
Trump, now on a nine-day worldwide trip, has had his own conversations with the Russians questioned in light of reports that he shared extremely classified intelligence with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office on May 10. "The Russian intelligence threat is a serious one".
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. He said that he's seen a tremendous growth of capability and an enhanced architecture since 9/11 int erms of the ability to share counterterrorism information. "Mr. Putin and Russian officials are trying to actively exploit what is going on now in Washington to their benefit and to our detriment".
On another intelligence matter, Brennan said that while he was CIA director he shared classified information with Russian Federation and other nations about threats related to terrorism. The paper reported that the intelligence chiefs refused. Trump has defended his disclosure, saying he had the right to share the information.
Brennan added that the leak of classified information to the press was "appalling" and the sources "need to be tracked down".
Citing three current and former USA officials familiar with the intelligence, the newspaper said the conversations focused on Paul Manafort, then the Trump presidential campaign chairman, and Michael Flynn, a retired general who was then advising Trump.
During that meeting with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Securities Bureau (FSB), Brennan said he warned that if Russian Federation had such a campaign of interference underway, which had already been reported in the press, it would be "certain to backfire".
He said he raised media reports of Russian attempts to meddle in the election with Bortnikov, who denied any involvement by Moscow, and told him if Russia pursued this course it would destroy prospects for improved U.S. -Russia relations.
Brennan led the CIA during a critical period a year ago when US intelligence agencies concluded that Russian Federation was not only attempting to disrupt the election but was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump.
"Therefore", Brennan said, "I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well founded and needed to look into these issues".
Brennan continued briefing the committee in closed session after the public hearing. It was also the most complete account to date of the CIA's thinking at a time when intelligence agencies were putting together evidence that Russian Federation was interfering in the heated USA presidential race to help businessman Trump, a Republican, defeat Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
Despite the ongoing probe and reports this week that Trump urged intelligence officials to publicly deny the FBI was investigating him, the president remains focused on his trip and his domestic agenda, according to a senior White House official.
It was the closest an American intelligence official has come to explaining the genesis of the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign cooperated in Russia's meddling in the US election, and it made clear that what Trump has called "the Russian Federation thing" was viewed a year ago with the utmost seriousness by the intelligence community.