Ex-FBI chief warned of Russian contact with Trump campaign officials

Ex-FBI chief warned of Russian contact with Trump campaign officials

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign", Brennan's said in testimony to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee issued two additional subpoenas to businesses of ousted Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one of several key figures in the Russia-Trump campaign probe, and sent a letter to his lawyer questioning his basis for claiming a Fifth Amendment right not to provide documents.

Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia say they are disappointed that Flynn has made a decision to ignore the committee's subpoena.

Flynn's attorneys had argued the request was too broad, saying if he complied, he would effectively be providing testimony that could be used against him.

The panel will get two cracks at Brennan - the first in public at 10 a.m. ET and the second behind closed doors - nearly two months after his first appearance was dramatically canceled amid the chaos sparked by House intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes' clandestine White House trip.

Brennan's statements about the number of contacts between associates of the Trump campaign and the Russians again put details about the campaign's contacts with the Kremlin into the spotlight as reports emerged that Trump had asked his national intelligence director and NSA chief to state publicly there was no evidence of collusion before investigations into the matter were complete.

Brennan said he doesn't know if there was collusion with the Trump campaign, but that he felt the FBI investigation into the matter was "certainly well-founded". "But I know there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads".

Attorneys for Michael Flynn say that a daily "escalating public frenzy against him" and the Justice Department's appointment of a special counsel have created a legally unsafe environment for him to cooperate with a Senate investigation. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats whether Trump had asked him to "push back on the Russian Federation investigation" as was reported Monday by The Washington Post.

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.

Coats said that "I don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president".

He left his position at the WilmerHale law firm, whose clients include former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

More news: Senate votes to confirm Iowa governor as ambassador to China

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.

Burr said if there is no response from Flynn his committee may consider a contempt-of-Congress charge. Everything but immunity, he added.

Trump vehemently denies any collusion and says he is the victim of an unprecedented witch hunt.

As Brennan answers House lawmakers' questions in open and closed sessions, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from Trump's top intelligence official, Dan Coats, and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency regarding national security threats.

"(Tuesday's) testimony by former CIA Director Brennan that the Russians brazenly interfered in our election, and that he became aware of interactions between Trump campaign officials and the Russians that warranted referral to the FBI further underscores the importance of our investigation", Schiff said. He said he told Bortnikov that Russian interference "would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement" in the relationship between the US and Russia.

Bortnikov denied any Russian interference, Brennan said, but relayed the message to President Vladimir Putin.

Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency head found common ground with the Trump administration, decrying media reports of the President sharing state secrets with the Russian government.

Brennan also said that, if press reports are accurate, Trump may have violated two major protocols governing the sharing of classified information when he spoke with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office on May 10.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the newspaper's report Monday is an indication that Trump is trying to impede the investigation.

He said he was concerned because he knows that Russians try to get individuals, including USA persons, to act on their behalf.

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