Former CIA director says 'Russia brazenly interfered' in election

Marsha Scott
May 24, 2017

The Trump campaign's potential collusion with Russian Federation is no joke.

He said that Americans don't always know when they're helping Russian spies because Russian intelligence agents often use intermediaries. "They try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including USA individuals, to act on their behalf, wittingly or unwittingly", Brennan said.

Mr Brennan said the Russians "brazenly interfered" in last November's U.S. elections and were "very aggressive".

"I don't know whether or not ... such collusion existed", Brennan added, forcefully. But it was done through proper intelligence channels, he asserted, and only when he thought that it was necessary to save Russian lives.

Brennan's interlocutor denied any Russian interference but said he would pass on the warning to President Vladimir Putin, the ex-CIA chief said.

San Antonio Rep. Will Hurd, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and Republican in a key swing district, asked Brennan if he believes the Central Intelligence Agency responded quickly and aggressively enough to the Russian threat. "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 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.

The first is that classified intelligence of this nature is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors, but rather through intelligence channels so that it's handled the "right way" and to make sure it is not exposed, Brennan said.

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John Brennan, a former CIA director from the Obama administration, said he personally warned the head of Russia's intelligence service lthat Moscow's interference in the 2016 election would backfire and inflict damage to the relationship between Russian Federation and the United States.

During the hearing, Brennan said it was "outrageous" that a foreign country possibly interfered in an American presidential election. "Finally, I warned Mr. Bortnikov that if Russian Federation pursued this course, it would destroy any near-term prospect for improvement in relations between Washington and Moscow and would undermine constructive engagement even on matters of mutual interest". In January, he lashed out at Trump for comparing USA spy agencies to Nazi secret police.

Brennan said it wasn't clear at the time if the Trump aides were acting as Russian agents or if the "contacts and interactions" were routine and unconnected to a larger effort by Russian intelligence agencies to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The hearing was due to go into closed session to discuss classified information after Brennan's public testimony.

Republicans on the 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.

He said he passed evidence collected by the CIA to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and briefed the so-called Gang of Eight - the congressional leaders of both parties and the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, about Russia's efforts last summer.

Brennan also made clear that, during the summer, he had been specifically aware of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Brennan did not cite the names of the Trump aides that U.S. intelligence agencies had eyed for their Russian Federation contacts. Brennan said Bortnikov denied any active efforts in the election. If they did collect more information that they did not release, I think they were probably husbanding it for another day. "They continue to be very, very damaging leaks and I find them appalling and they need to be tracked down".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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