Ex-CIA chief says he warned Russia to stay out of election

Ex-CIA head Concerns over Trump team Russia contacts

Ex-CIA head Concerns over Trump team Russia contacts

The White House, responding to hearings on Capitol Hill about contacts between officials in Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation, said on Tuesday, May 23, that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump's team and Moscow.

"It raised questions in my mind about whether Russian Federation was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals", he added. Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to act as a special counsel to investigate any possible collusion.

Brennan testified that there was a "sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation" by the FBI to determine whether or not US citizens were "actively conspiring, colluding" with Russian officials. "That any political shaping of that presentation or intelligence would not be appropriate". He said he was concerned over the number of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign operatives.

He says he doesn't know if any collusion occurred between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

"Frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they are along that path until it gets to be a bit too late", he said.

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. Though intelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russian Federation directly interfered with the election, it has become a divisive partisan issue, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to accept the conclusion.

Brennan was a key figure in the Obama administration's handling of Russian election interference.

"We're looking to see which of those they employed in our election, and they may have used different actors for different parts of that", Schiff said. "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 is the first high-level intelligence official to say point-blank he was anxious that members of the Trump campaign may have been recruited by Russian agents. The FBI is also conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich said Trump's sharing would be considered the "mother of all leaks" if he held any position in government besides president, which gives him the authority to declassify whatever he wants. His testimony before a Senate subcommittee touched on Russia's interference in the election, but he wasn't asked about Trump's alleged request in the first round of questioning.

Sensitive information should be passed only through intelligence services, not divulged to foreign ministers or ambassadors, Brennan said.

During his opening statement, Brennan recalled a phone call with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's security service, in August 2016, when he mentioned published reports about Russian interference in the election.

"My radar goes up when I see certain things", Brennan said, noting, throughout his career, he has studied Russian intelligence activities including "how they've been able to get people, including inside the CIA, to be treasonous".

Brennan testified that three months before election day, he personally warned Russia's intelligence chief to back off.

In his opening statement, Brennan also recounted how he had briefed congressional leaders in August of a year ago, 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.

Mr. Brennan declined to discuss the specific information that his assessments were based on in the open hearing, saying that much of the information was classified.

Republicans on the House intelligence committee pushed Brennan about whether there was evidence of collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, a point President Donald Trump has tried to enlist allies to quash. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

"It should be clear to everyone Russian Federation brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so", Brennan testified at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. "Moreover, the director's admonition that the sharing of any classified information with the Russians should only proceed through intelligence channels, and with significant thought given to ensuring that whatever information is provided would not reveal sources and methods, should serve as a reminder to the White House of the dangers of any impromptu disclosures by the President".

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