President Trump's Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash.
That's why the president revoked my security clearance: to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him.
When Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's internal security service, told me during an early August 2016 phone call that Russia wasn't interfering in our presidential election, I knew he was lying. Over the previous several years I had grown weary of Mr. Bortnikov's denials of Russia's perfidy — about its mistreatment of American diplomats and citizens in Moscow, its repeated failure to adhere to cease-fire agreements in Syria and its paramilitary intervention in eastern Ukraine, to name just a few issues.
When I warned Mr. Bortnikov that Russian interference in our election was intolerable and would roil United States-Russia relations for many years, he denied Russian involvement in any election, in America or elsewhere, with a feigned sincerity that I had heard many times before. President Vladimir Putin of Russia reiterated those denials numerous times over the past two years, often to Donald Trump's seeming approval.
Russian denials are, in a word, hogwash.
Before, during and after its now infamous meddling in our last presidential election, Russia practiced the art of shaping political events abroad through its well-honed active measures program, which employs an array of technical capabilities, information operations and old-fashioned human intelligence spycraft. Electoral politics in Western democracies presents an especially inviting target, as a variety of politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright by Russian intelligence operatives. The very freedoms and liberties that liberal Western democracies cherish and that autocracies fear have been exploited by Russian intelligence services not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation, increasingly via the growing number of social media platforms.
Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia's ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.
In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin's intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.
The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.
Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.
Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.
The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of "Trump Incorporated" attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. A jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman. And the campaign's former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.
Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference — from Mr. Trump or anyone else — so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.
Mr. Brennan served in the CIA for 25 years and was its director from 2013 to 2017. This article appeared in the New York Times, on August 16, 2018, one day after Trump stripped Mr. Brennan of his security clearance.
August 16, 2018
Post Script. What does Trump's attack on Brennan mean?
The Wall Street Journal wrote this about Trump's attack on John Brennan:
"WASHINGTON—President Trump drew a direct connec-tion between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.
In an interview Wednes-day, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfer-ing.
Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
"I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham," Mr. Trump said in an interview. "And these people led it!"
What that means is, yes, Trump attacked and tried to discredit a powerful critic of him and his treasonous regime, but in the WSJ interview, Trump also acknowledged that he removed Brennan's clearance because of John Brennan's involvement in the Russian investigation (Similarly, in 2017, Trump acknowledged to Lester Holt on NBC that he fired FBI chief Comey because of the Russian investigation too.)
The New York Times also thinks that the Russian investigation was on Trump's mind when he removed Brennan's right to security clearance: "Revoking Clearance, Trump Aims Presidential Power at Russia Inquiry" https://nyti.ms/2MQjuEE?smid=nytcore-ios-share
Last, the Washington Post offers this observation and makes this prediction:
“Trump gears up to strip more clearances from officials tied to Russia investigation.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-gears-up-to-strip-more-clearances-from-officials-tied-to-russia-probe/2018/08/16/341fe418-a165-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html?utm_term=.6ed31fbd64af
This then is the take away.
Donald Trump is targeting not just critics but those connected to the Russian investigation.
Will Mueller be on the list too? Is it Trump's plan to paralyze the Special Investigator and everyone who might be knowledgeable about useful for the Russian investigation?
First, Trump fired Brennan to revenge and stop the Russian investigation. Now, the former head of the CIA called Trump out as #PutinsPuppet.
Support John Brennan and the Russian investigation. Denounce #TraitorTrump by sharing what John Brennan wrote.