Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Technology | By Ramiro Moody

House Intelligence Meeting With John Brennan


The FBI is also conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

The reports fuel speculation that Trump asked former-FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn.

Brennan was speaking to the House intelligence committee on the extent of Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

The Senate intelligence committee says it will subpoena two of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's businesses.

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.

He said he did not know if this amounted to outright collusion. This type of information is typically shared in intelligence channels and not between the USA president and foreign diplomats, Brennan said.

The former Central Intelligence Agency director warned that he does not believe the Russians are done trying to interfere in America's elections and could try to influence the 2018 congressional elections. Brennan says he told the head of the FSB that if Russian Federation continued to interfere, it would backfire and prevent any warming of relations. "The Russian intelligence threat is a serious one".

Brennan said he became convinced last summer that Russian Federation was trying to interfere in the campaign, saying "they were very aggressive".

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the newspaper's report Monday is an indication that Trump is trying to impede the investigation. "Mr. Putin and Russian officials are trying to actively exploit what is going on now in Washington to their benefit and to our detriment".

Brennan said he was "unaware" of any efforts by Trump to sway the intelligence community on this matter. The president reportedly shared intelligence information from Israel about ISIS to the Russians.

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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.

First, he testified, "Such intelligence, classified intelligence, is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors". Brennan said the CIA focuses on intelligence, not "evidence", and he was not able to answer that question.

Brennan said that he first picked up on Russia's active meddling last summer and, in an August 4, 2016, phone call with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's FSB intelligence agency, warned him against further interference.

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. He said he told Bortnikov that Russian interference "would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement" in the relationship between the USA and Russia.

Former CIA chief John Brennan offered a frank assessment of Russia's aggressive approach to meddling in the 2016 election and, in the process, complicated President Donald Trump's attempts to cast the whole thing as fake news.

Former CIA Director John Brennan says Russia has a history of trying to "suborn individuals" and he anxious last summer about the number of contacts Russian officials were having with Americans. Brennan was testifying in an open session of the House Committee, following which is a closed session.

"This morning's hearings back up what we've been saying all along: that despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion", a statement from an unnamed White House official read.

In his opening statement, Brennan also recounted how he had briefed congressional leaders in August of previous year, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the "full details" of what he knew of Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

The latest news most likely to hold the Capitol captive is word that Trump asked his own intelligence chiefs - Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers - to rebut Comey's then-public statement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened a criminal probe into Russia's meddling in July of a year ago.

He also said that before such sharing, the USA would go back to the intelligence partner that provided the information to make sure it would not compromise operatives.

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