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

Ex-CIA chief warned Russia against election interference

Ex-CIA chief warned Russia against election interference

In addition, the country's top intelligence official, Dan Coats, declined to say, as reported by the Washington Post, whether Trump had asked him to publicly deny that any evidence exists on collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and USA persons involved in the Trump campaign", he added.

The former director of the CIA told the House Intelligence Committee today that he was "worried" by contacts between Russian Federation and unidentified us persons during the presidential campaign, yet didn't share everything that came to the attention of the CIA with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper like he shared it with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats whether Trump had asked him to "push back on the Russian Federation investigation" as was reported Monday by The Washington Post.

Coats told senators at a Senate hearing that it would be inappropriate to discuss private conversations he'd had with the president.

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 USA ally about the Islamic State group.

Brennan, testifying for the first time as a private citizen, offered up a stream of news and developments Tuesday morning, but the biggest was clearly that he saw evidence that Trump aides were being courted by Russian operatives.

Brennan told the lawmakers that he had made contact with his Russian counterpart, head of Russia's Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, in August and warned him that any interference in the USA presidential election would "destroy any near-term prospect" of improved relations between the US and Russia.

The former spy chief said there were enough indications to warrant an investigation by the FBI.

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

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Brennan's first public accounting since he stepped down in January shed new light on the political scandal that has dogged Trump since before he took office and that now has spawned separate investigations by the FBI, four congressional committees, the Pentagon and a Virginia grand jury.

Brennan was also asked about Trump's disclosure of highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador in a White House meeting this month.

By the summer of 2016, it "became clear" to Brennan that "Russia was engaged in aggressive and wide-ranging efforts to interfere in one of the key pillars of our democracy".

Rogers, the other person who reportedly got an earful from Trump, will also be testifying before lawmakers on Tuesday.

"Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians try to do".

Brennan did not single out anyone, but his comments were an apparent reference to the Trump campaign.

Over the course of the hearing, Brennan declined to reveal more details of the intelligence behind the January 6, 2017 report from the intelligence community that concluded that Russian Federation intervened in the election with the intent to harm Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

The dual testimonies and new allegations that Flynn appeared to lie to federal security clearance investigators continue to keep Russian Federation in the headlines, even as Trump tried to distance himself from the Russian Federation investigation with his first global trip as president.

Mr. Coats was also asked if he knew of any efforts by the White House to interfere in other aspects of the Russian Federation inquiry, including allegations the president asked Mr. Comey to ease off investigating Mr. Flynn.

As a rule, the president and his allies seize on circumspect answers from intelligence agency officials - folks who tend to avoid provocative public answers on any subject - to falsely claim the "collusion" allegation has already been discredited.

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