Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ex-CIA chief was concerned over Trump campaign's contacts with Kremlin

John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)
John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)

Former CIA director John Brennan has said he was concerned about the number of contacts between Americans "involved" with the Trump campaign and the Russians last year.

During his first public remarks since he left his post in January, Mr Brennan told legislators he was so concerned about Moscow'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 on the issue.

Republicans on the House intelligence committee pushed Mr Brennan about whether there was evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, a point President Donald Trump has tried to enlist allies to quash.

Mr Brennan said the CIA focuses on intelligence, not "evidence", and said he was not able to answer that question.

His statements about the number of contacts between associates of the Trump campaign and the Russians again put details about contacts with the Kremlin into the spotlight as reports emerged that Mr Trump had asked his national intelligence director and NSA chief to state publicly there was no evidence of collusion before investigations into the matter were complete.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate panel on Tuesday he would not comment on the reports.

Mr Brennan's evidence came the day after Mr 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 is conducting a separate investigation into Russian meddling and possible co-ordination with the Trump campaign.

The Senate intelligence committee asked Mr Flynn and three other Trump campaign associates for documents, including lists of meetings he had with the Russians during the campaign.

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

The former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, previously told Congress that the Justice Department was concerned that Mr Flynn was compromised by the Russians and could be vulnerable to blackmail as Mr Trump's national security adviser because of misleading statements he made to vice president Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US.

Mr Trump fired Mr Flynn in February over the misleading statements, but he has since defended his integrity.

On Monday, Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House oversight committee, cited inconsistencies in Mr Flynn's disclosures to US investigators during his security clearance review in early 2016.

Mr Cummings said in a new letter that Mr Flynn appeared to lie about the source of a 33,000 dollar payment from Russia's state-sponsored television network, failed to identify foreign officials he met - including President Vladimir Putin - and glossed over his firing as chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration.

Mr Cummings asked the committee's chairman, Jason Chaffetz, to subpoena the White House for documents related to Mr Flynn.

AP

Press Association

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News