Former CIA Director John Brennan’s Tuesday confirmation of troubling contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives was actually good news, according to the White House.
Hours after Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee that evidence of those contacts troubled his agency enough to prompt a major federal investigation, the Trump administration released a brief, anonymous statement eliding that bit of his testimony.
“This morning’s hearings back up what we’ve been saying all along: that despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion, that the President never jeopardized intelligence sources or sharing, and that even Obama’s CIA Director believes the leaks of classified information are ‘appalling’ and the culprits must be ‘tracked down,'” the statement read.
The Trump administration has long argued that the sprawling probe into Russia’s election meddling and potential collusion with Trump aides is a “witch hunt,” and that the slow drip of leaked information about that investigation is the “real story.”
While Brennan did criticize leaks in Tuesday’s hearing, he expressed worry that Russia managed to “gain the cooperation” of people associated with Trump’s campaign, even without their knowledge.
Brennan also testified that if the President shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials at the White House as reported, he violated intelligence-sharing protocol.
“It appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it,” Brennan said. “That is a problem.”
In a separate Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment on a report that Trump asked him to publicly push back on the FBI’s probe.
“I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that,” Coats said.