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Friday, August 21, 2020

Brennan interviewed as 'witness' in Russia review probe, spokesman says


Former CIA Director John Brennan was told in an interview Friday that he was neither a subject nor a target of a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, according to a spokesman.

The ex-intelligence chief sat for an eight-hour interview at CIA headquarters with John Durham, who was selected by Attorney General William Barr to lead the review of the 2016 counterintelligence probe into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to former Brennan adviser Nick Shapiro.

Durham told Brennan that he was a "witness" to events that are under review, according to Shapiro.

Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama, was one of the intelligence officials who signed off on an intelligence assessment that determined Russia interfered to help then-candidate Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Brennan’s involvement in the investigation into Russian election interference and frequent public criticism of President Trump has drawn the president’s ire. Trump has cited Brennan as one of several national security officials he holds responsible for special counsel Robert Mueller's subsequent investigation that consumed the early years of Trump's presidency.

Brennan, according to Shapiro, questioned Durham on why the CIA’s findings are being scrutinized by the Justice Department given that reports released by Mueller and a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee validated its findings.

"Brennan also told Durham that the repeated efforts of Donald Trump & William Barr to politicize Mr. Durham's work have been appalling & have tarnished the independence & integrity of the Department of Justice, making it difficult for DOJ professionals to carry out their job,” Shapiro added.

Shapiro said that it’s Brennan’s “fervent hope that the results of the Durham review will be apolitical and not influenced by personal or partisan agendas.”

Trump stripped Brennan of his security clearance in 2018, saying his “erratic conduct and behavior” posed risks. The move was widely criticized by former intelligence officials.

Durham’s probe, which Trump allies hope could boost the president before the November election, secured its first guilty plea on Wednesday when a former FBI attorney pleaded guilty to altering an email used to seek surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.



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