Drip. Drip. Drip. Trump, Russia Collusion Start to Emerge
Former CIA Director John Brenna earlier today told the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections that he is aware of connections between Russia and Trump campaign during the elections.
He stopped short of confirming outright collusion between Trump and Russia but he told the panel that he believed Russia “brazenly interfered” in the election to help the Trump campaign.
“I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion,” Brennan in response to a question by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
Brennan later confirmed that he supported the FBI digging further into the Russia hack.
“It was necessary to pull threads,” he said.
He said he first became aware of Russia’s meddling sometime last summer and warned the head of Russia’s FSB intelligence agency Alexander Bortnikov to stop the illegal activities.
The Russians denied that they were engaged in an effort to interfere in the presidential elections.
Seeking to dilute the testimony of the former CIA director, Ohio Republican Representative Mike Turner asked if Brennan believed the evidence he saw amounted to “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Brennan responded that “seeing these types of contacts during the same period of time raised my concern.”
He also told panel members that he believes that President Trump broke protocol when he revealed highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador when they met recently in the Oval office.
The biggest damage to President Trump may have been inflicted by the Republicans themselves in their zeal to help clear the president’s name.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) opened the door wide when he asked Brennan to confirm that he saw no proof of collusion between Trump and Russia.
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”
Later Republican Congressman from Florida, Tom Rooney opened the door even wider when he asked Brennan if the intelligence shows that “Moscow was actually for Donald Trump and rooting against Hillary Clinton”
Brennan saw this as an opportunity to drive his point home.
“They believed that Secretary Clinton was going to win the election and so their efforts were to diminish her efforts and I believe they had a more favorable view of Mr. Trump and trying to increase his prospects and they probably felt that they were going to increase his prospects.”
“They felt that Mr. Trump, being a bit of an outsider, that they had in the past good relationships with businessmen who happened to elevate into positions of governmental authority…I believe they tried to damage and bloody her before but I believe that, had she been elected, their efforts to denigrate her and hurt her would have continued during her presidency. If they did collect more information that they did not release, I think they were probably husbanding it for another day.”
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