House investigators are interest in diving into Russian meddling in the US election
Former CIA Director John Brennan's testimony isn't the only high profile hearing Tuesday
Former CIA Director John Brennan told House Russia investigators Tuesday that Russia “brazenly interfered” in US elections, including actively contacting members of the President Donald Trump’s campaign – but he stopped shy of dubbing it “collusion.”
“I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion,” Brennan told Rep. Trey Gowdy, saying that he supported the FBI digging further. “It was necessary to pull threads.”
Brennan was speaking to the House intelligence committee on the extent of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections and possible ties to the Trump campaign, where he was asked about how Moscow recruits sources “wittingly and unwittingly.”
“Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late,” Brennan said.
Brennan said that he first picked up on Russia’s active meddling last summer and, in an August 4, 2016, phone call with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, warned him against further interference. Bortnikov, Brennan said, denied any active efforts in the election.
Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, grilled Brennan on whether evidence he cited amounted to collusion between Trump aides and Russia.
“Seeing these types of contacts during the same period of time raised my concern,” Brennan said.
Brennan cautioned lawmakers that although he could not definitively say if those contacts amounted to “collusion,” he knew that Russians were actively cultivating US contacts and, very likely, did not present themselves as Russian spies.
Brennan also said Trump might have broken protocol if he revealed highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting earlier this month.
The panel will get two cracks at Brennan – the first in public at 10 a.m. ET and the second behind closed doors – almost two months after his first appearance was dramatically canceled amid the chaos sparked by House intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ clandestine White House trip.