Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday during a congressional hearing that contacts and interactions between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian officials do not constitute evidence of collusion.
Brennan's testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence came on the heels of many Democratic lawmakers calling for President Trump's impeachment because of their belief that Trump colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. Several other Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), have said there is so far no evidence of collusion.
Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio) asked Brennan to clarify his earlier testimony that contacts and interactions alone do not constitute evidence of collusion.
Read the full transcript below:
TURNER: So, you indicated that you saw, when asked about whether or not you'd seen evidence of collusion or collaboration, you said that you saw intelligence that indicated there had been contacts with individuals, with Russians, that were of a nature that bore investigation. You said that those contacts might have been benign, might not have been, but they rose to the level of indicating that they need to be reviewed for their nature and looking into an investigation. Did I characterize that correctly?
BRENNAN: Yes, but I don't want to take this out of context. You know, we see contacts, interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons all the time. It is when it's in a 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 this same period of time raised my concern.
TURNER: Excellent. I appreciate that qualification. 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?
BRENNAN: They will 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.
TURNER: So, you would say that's a misrepresentation of your statement, yes?
BRENNAN: I would say that it was not an accurate portrayal of my statement, absolutely. It was inconsistent with my remarks.