Former CIA Director John Brennan testified on Tuesday that after viewing all of the evidence that was available to him on the Russia probe he is not aware of any collusion between Russia and members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Brennan made that characterization more than once during his sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
In one case, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), asked Brennan specifically:
Did evidence exist of collusion, coordination, conspiracy, between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors at the time you learned of 2016 efforts?
Brennan replied that he was aware of “contacts” between Russian officials and U.S. citizens involved in the Trump campaign, but he was not aware of any evidence of collusion.
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 and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.
I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, 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 U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.
Later in the hearing, Brennan conceded that “we see contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons all the time.”
However, he added, “It is when it’s in the context that there is something else going on — and so we knew, at the time, that the Russians were involved in this effort to try to interfere in our election.
“So with that backdrop, and increasing indications that they were involved in that, seeing these types of contacts and interactions during the same period of time raised my — my concern.”
In response, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) asked Brennan to clarify whether those purported contacts between Russia and people associated with Trump’s campaign constituted collusion.
“But if someone left this hearing today and said that you had indicated that those contacts were evidence of collusion or collaboration, they would be misrepresenting your statements, correct?” Turner asked.
“They would have misheard my response to the very good questions that were asked of me. I’m trying to be as clear as possible in terms of what I know, what I assess and what I can say,” Brennan replied.
“So, you would say that’s a misrepresentation of your statement, yes?” Turner inquired.
“I would say that it was not an accurate portrayal of my statement,” replied Brennan.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
With research by Joshua Klein.