Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Brennan worried about Russia, American contacts


The committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, issued the subpoenas after Flynn declined to provide documents related to his financial ties to Russia.

In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Brennan said he became increasingly concerned that Trump associates were being manipulated by Russian intelligence services as part of a broader covert influence campaign that sought to disrupt the election and deliver the presidency to Trump. Brennan said the CIA focuses on intelligence, not "evidence", and he was not able to answer that question.

After former USA national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to produce documents on supposed links to Russian interference with the United States presidential election, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday it would subpoena two of Flynn's businesses.

"We will vigorously pursue General Flynn's testimony and his production of any and all pertinent materials pursuant to the committee's authorities", they said. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have now released new documents suggesting that Flynn may have misled Pentagon investigators about the extent of his Russian Federation ties when applying previous year for a security clearance, raising new questions about how much Trump knew about those ties.

Mr Flynn told investigators in February a year ago that he received no income from foreign firms and had only "insubstantial contact" with foreign nationals, according to the letter. Burr says the committee is "very specific" about what it's asking in an attempt to pressure Flynn to turn over documents.

According to the Report of Investigation, which Cummings refers to in his letter to committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Flynn made false statements to investigators about who funded his foreign trips, including a 2015 trip to Russian Federation where Flynn was paid roughly $45,000 to speak at an event in Moscow.

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Flynn, who was ousted in February for misleading Vice President Pence about the contents of a December phone call to the Russian ambassador, has been a point of fierce scrutiny in the various investigations into election meddling.

The Associated Press first reported Flynn's plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment. "We need to know what the President, the Vice President, White House Counsel, and other top officials knew about General Flynn-and when they knew it", Cummings wrote.

And Burr said his committee has "plenty" of options to respond. The report was confirmed to NBC News by a former senior intelligence official. "We respect anybody's right to take the Fifth Amendment but I don't believe that a request for documents" such as calendars or visas would be granted blanket immunity would apply. Trump asked in a campaign rally in Iowa in September. US officials have said the information originated with Israel.

Trump himself walked back into the Russia controversy during his visit to Israel, volunteering that he "never mentioned the word or the name Israel" during his recent Oval Office conversation with top Russian diplomats. He noted it would be unreasonable for Flynn to agree to be questioned by the committee "without assurances against unfair prosecution". Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone have provided the committee with information, while former campaign adviser Carter Page has not.

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.

At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James Clapper said that Moscow's leaders "must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource", a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race but also to the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration.

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