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No knowledge of collusion in Trump campaign: Former CIA chief John Brennan

But Russian intelligence services were actively involved in influencing the campaign, says Brennan

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

John Brennan
Former CIA Director John Brennan Photo: Twitter

Former director today said he had no knowledge of any collusion between and Trump campaign but he was aware that Russian intelligence service was actively involved in its effort to influence the presidential polls last year.

"I encountered and I am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and the persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals," Brennan told members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"It raised questions in my mind about whether was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals," Brennan said.

"I don't know whether or not such collusion existed. I don't know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials," Brennan said.

According to the White House statement, "This morning's hearings back up what we've been saying all along: that despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion, that the President never jeopardised intelligence sources or sharing, and that even Obama's Director believes the leaks of classified information are 'appalling' and the culprits must be 'tracked down'."

The White House statement came after the former Director told lawmakers that he is aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign.

Brennan also repeated that he had no evidence of such a collusion as being alleged. But he said that there were information about the contacts between Russians and a US person with the Trump campaign. But he refused to divulge the name of such a person.

"Given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counter-intelligence case involving an ongoing Russian effort to interfere in our presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of Congress, each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member," he said.

"The substance of those briefings was entirely consistent with the main judgements contained in the January classified and unclassified assessments, namely that Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, and to help President Trump's election chances," the former CIA Director said.

Responding to a question, Brennan said there was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were actively involved in its effort to influence the campaign.

"Having been involved in many counter-intelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians try to do. They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including US persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly," he said.

"I was worried by a number of contacts that the Russians had with the US persons and so therefore, by the time I left office on January 20, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting the US persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion," he said.

"And so therefore I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues," Brennan said.

First Published: Wed, May 24 2017. 04:30 IST