Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday President Donald Trump did not attempt to enlist the help of any official in the intelligence community to kill the investigation of his former national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn.
Brennan’s comment in a congressional hearing contradicts widespread media reports charging the Trump White House attempted to derail an investigation of Flynn, who is facing multiple probes about his relationship with Russian officials and business dealings with the government of Turkey.
Brennan was President Barack Obama’s CIA Director from March 2013 to the end of his administration on January 20, 2017. He retains the nation’s highest security clearance and it is common for former intelligence community (IC) leaders to stay in touch with former colleagues.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat and ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, raised the issue of alleged Trump attempts to drop the investigation of Flynn in Tuesday’s hearing.
“In respect to a number of allegations made recently that the president of his aides may have sought to enlist the help of members the IC [intelligence community] or Director Comey himself to drop the Flynn investigation,” Schiff said. “Have any members of the IC shared with you their concerns that the president was attempting to enlist the help of people within the intelligence community to drop the Flynn investigation?”
“No sir,” Brennan replied.
Brennan did not limit his answer to his time as Obama’s CIA chief as he did in other responses to the committee, but confidently described his remarks to apply to the present day.
There are 17 separate national security agencies, including the CIA, in the IC.
The New York Times reported May 16 that Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. Trump abruptly fired Comey May 9.
Trump “asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting,” TheNYT reported. The former FBI director reportedly shared the existence of the memo “with senior FBI officials and close associates.”
But importantly, TheNYT never actually saw the memo to confirm its authenticity. One of Comey’s associates read parts of it to NYT reporter Michael S. Schmidt who covers national security and law enforcement and filed the story.
The same day TheNYT report was published, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the retiring Utah Republican who is Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe seeking “all memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings referring or related to any communications between Comey and the President.”
Chaffetz set a May 24 deadline for producing the materials.
The Trump White House denied that the President ever asked anyone to end the Flynn investigation. “The President has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the White House said in a statement, adding: “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
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