Former CIA Director John Brennan penned a recent op-ed piece in which he said any and all denials from Russia that they did not interfere in our elections in 2016 are “hogwash.” He used the same term to describe similar denials made by the administration of President Donald Trump.
“Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash,” Brennan wrote.
His opinion piece, published in The New York Times on Thursday, the day after Trump stripped his security clearance, is a scathing rebuke to the Trump administration and its backers who suggest that the investigation into Russia collusion, with the Trump campaign or any other entity, should cease at once.
Collusion is a foregone conclusion, Brennan explained, that cannot be denied based on the evidence he has seen.
“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,” Brennan wrote.
He also chastised the president for making the work of American intelligence agencies harder, which Brennan explained happened when Trump asked Russian hackers to find missing emails sent from or to Hillary 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,” Brennan wrote.
The former head of the CIA concluded that the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia investigation (including possibly allegations of collusion involving the Trump campaign), must be free from interference. Brennan also suggested that Trump’s recent revocation of his security clearance was a direct response to criticisms made by him toward the president.
“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,” Brennan wrote. “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.”
Brennan is absolutely correct in suggesting Trump acted out of vengeance rather than necessity in removing the former CIA director’s security clearance. In an interview he gave shortly after doing so, the president explained the revocation had everything to do with the Russia “witch hunt,” suggesting that Brennan himself played a role in its inception.
“I think that whole — I call it the rigged witch hunt — is a sham. And these people led it!” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “So I think it's something that had to be done.”
Brennan has suggested that collusion existed between Russia and other Americans before, including possibly involving officials within the Trump administration. Indeed, in March Brennan stated that Russia may even have “dirt” on Trump that compromised the president’s actions.
“I think he's afraid of the president of Russia,” Brennan said at the time. “I think one can speculate as to why, that the Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life difficult.”
Whatever the case may be — whether Trump has knowledge about collusion occuring in his campaign or not, or whether Trump and other officials in his administration tried to impede investigators from discovering such collusion — Brennan is absolutely correct that the Russia inquiry headed by Mueller must be allowed to continue.
The American people deserve to know the facts, including to what extent Russia had its hands on shaping our electoral outcomes in 2016.
If Russia worked directly with the president’s campaign, that information must be made public as well, so that lawmakers, acting on behalf of the American people, can take an adequate response to such revelations, taking the appropriate steps necessary to rectify whatever transgressions occurred during the campaign and since.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Gretchen Ertl/Reuters