Worries grew of Trump campaign contacts to Russia — Ex-CIA chief

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 24, 2017

The former national security adviser will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against se.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Cory A. Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Cummings asked the committee's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to subpoena the White House for documents related to Flynn.

WASHINGTON-Former CIA director John Brennan testified Tuesday that contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign associates and Russian officials raised concerns the Kremlin could try to cultivate people close to Mr. Trump, shedding light on why federal agents began a full investigation.

Politico notes that Brennan's testimony is the "the most direct acknowledgment yet by a current or former USA official" that Russian Federation courted the Trump campaign in order to to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Tuesday's letter narrowed the scope of the documents the panel is seeking.

Flynn's attorneys had argued the request was too broad, saying if he complied, he would effectively be providing testimony that could be used against him.

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

During his first public remarks since he left his post in January, Brennan told lawmakers he was so concerned about Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and recruit Americans that he convened a group of officials from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency in late July to focus exclusively on the issue.

I know there was sufficient basis in intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether US persons were actively conspiring and colluding with Russian officials.

"Frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they are on that path until it gets to be a bit too late, and that's why my radar goes up early when I see certain things", Brennan said, explaining that he did not know whether the contacts between Trump team members and Russian Federation were "benign".

Brennan said he delivered a stiff telephone warning to his Russian counterpart, the head of the FSB spy agency, against meddling in early August, two months before USA intelligence chiefs went public with their belief that Russia was trying to manipulate the election in Trump's favor.

"And that they undertook the activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning they not do so", said Brennan, who served as Central Intelligence Agency director from 2013 until January of this year when Trump took office.

Trump has predicted the investigations won't find collusion, and his efforts to cast doubt and curb the probes have led to the appointment of a special counsel at the Justice Department. Both Moscow and Trump have consistently denied any collusion.

He added that he did not know "if such collusion" existed but "I know there was sufficient basis in intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether USA persons were actively conspiring and colluding with Russian officials".

Coats said he had "no documents to make relevant", when asked by a senator whether he would turn over memos about any conversations he might have had with Trump about the investigation into the Russian Federation matter.

The Post, citing current and former officials, said Coats and NSA Director Mike Rogers had refused Trump's request.

Brennan's testimony came the day after Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination in response to a subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee, which, like the House committee, is investigating the Russian interference and possible co-ordination with the Trump campaign.

Burr said if there is no response from Flynn his committee may consider a contempt-of-Congress charge. Burr says the committee is "very specific" about what it's asking in an attempt to pressure Flynn to turn over documents. Everything but immunity, he added.

Among those things that concerned him, Brennan said, was "intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and USA persons involved in the Trump campaign". Brennan says the contacts raised questions about whether Russian Federation was trying to gain the cooperation of those individuals.

In late July of past year there was so much concern that he convened a group of officials from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency to focus on it exclusively. He said the head of the FSB denied that Russian Federation was meddling, but said he would raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin.

Brennan also meanwhile addressed news reports that Trump, in an Oval Office meeting this month with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, shared highly classified information provided by a U.S. ally about the Islamic State group.

Mr. Brennan, the former CIA chief, said in his testimony that the intelligence community determined by last August that there was a "very aggressive" effort by Russian Federation to intervene in the 2016 election. He said Trump's reported "spontaneous" sharing of so-called "code-word" intelligence from Israel with two visiting Russian diplomats had violated "two protocols" of behavior between spy agencies.

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