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House Intelligence Hearing With John Brennan

23 May 2017

Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia's intelligence service past year that Moscow's interference in the US election would backfire and cause severe damage to the country's relationship with the United States.

"I believe I was the first USA official to brace Russia on this matter", Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee during a public appearance in that panel's probe into Russian interference in the election. Brennan said he became convinced last summer that Russian Federation was trying to interfere in the campaign, saying "they were very aggressive".

"I don't know what was shared or said in the Oval Office, but if the reports in the press are true that Mr. Trump chose to spontaneously share some intelligence with the Russians, I think he would have basically violated two protocols", Brennan said. What they really wanted to know, was if Brennan had ever found evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

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Brennan also said that he did not know whether Trump had tried to pressure former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The panel had sought a wide range of information and documents about his and the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians dating back to June 2015. Trump's national security leadership has said repeatedly that Russian Federation is among the top threats because of its cyber capabilities. Trump has denied any collusion.

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 worldwide trip as president.

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Brennan also said Trump might have broken protocol if he revealed highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the USA in a White House meeting earlier this month. Brennan said if reports were accurate, Trump violated "protocols" by sharing the information with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S.

But he told lawmakers that he had seen intelligence showing that individuals involved in the Trump campaign had interactions with Russian officials that "concerned" him because of known Russian efforts to manipulate US individuals into doing Moscow's bidding, either "wittingly or unwittingly".

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