Former CIA Director John Brennan chided reports that suggest the Senate Intelligence Committee had conclusively found there to be “no direct evidence” of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russia — when such a declaration isn’t within the committee’s purview.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, the former CIA director noted to MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, has been tasked with figuring out if Trump’s seemingly-public “collusion” with Russia “rises to the level of criminal conspiracy” and “whether [the Trump campaign] violated the law.”
“I know the Senate Intelligence Committee came out and said they found no direct evidence of criminal conspiracy,” Brennan said, “but that’s not the Senate Intelligence Committee’s [job].”
The former CIA director said he hoped the Senate Intelligence Committee would have figured out the logistics of the collusion he said “happened in plain sight.”
“How did the government respond?” Brennan said, listing off potential questions the committee should have answered. “The intelligence community, the law enforcement community, what can we do to better prepare ourselves in the future to prevent the Russians from interfering in the election?”
“These are the things that our congressional committees should be doing,” he added, “but criminal investigations should be left to the Department of Justice, the FBI and the special counsel.”
Wallace noted that Brennan “dropped a truth bomb” on the media’s takeaway: that “somehow, Donald Trump was cleared of collusion by the Senate Intel Committee.”
“The Senate Intelligence Committee does not have the investigative tools and capabilities and powers in the subpoenas and being able to pull financial records and other types of things that the special counsel has,” Brennan responded. “So, yes, they interviewed a number of witnesses. Yes, they looked at a lot of documents. Yes, they talked to the intelligence community. But that doesn’t mean that they conducted a criminal investigation. Again, that’s what the special counsel and the FBI is doing. We need to separate the two.”