- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2017

The head of the CIA during last year’s White House race warned his colleagues afterwards that certain members of Congress failed to grasp the seriousness of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a newly released document.

Dated Dec. 12, 2016, the internal memo issued by then-CIA Director John Brennan and recently obtained by BuzzFeed News suggests the former spy chief was wary of how unnamed lawmakers reacted to information concerning Russia’s role in last year’s election.

“Since last summer, the administration has provided extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings to members and staff from both parties on Capitol Hill. In recent days, I have had several conversations with members of Congress, providing an update on the status of the review as well as the considerations that need to be taken into account as we proceed,” Mr. Brennan wrote, BuzzFeed revealed Thursday.

“Many – but unfortunately not all – members understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue, and they are very supportive of the process that is underway,” Mr. Brennan wrote, according to the memo.

The members of Congress who failed to “understand and appreciate the importance” of Russia’s election meddling included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip, three intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News. Both Republicans had downplayed the significance of the CIA probe, and Mr. Cornyn tweeted days earlier that allegations of Russian hacking were “hardly news,” BuzzFeed reported.

Coupled with difficulties in Congress, Mr. Brennan also wrote in the memo that a “constant barrage” of inaccurate and misleading news reports, “including comments by named and anonymous sources,” had complicated the probe.

“Despite these distractions, you continue to carry out your responsibilities with outstanding integrity and focus, and you are making constant contributions of great consequence to our national security, as well as to peace and stability around the globe,” Mr. Brennan wrote in the memo. “Never have our national security challenges been so numerous and complex, nor has the need for your service been so great.”

The memo was sent to colleagues following consultations between Mr. Brennan and other intelligence community leaders as U.S. investigators intensified its ongoing probe into Russia’s alleged election meddling on the heels of President Trump’s win a month earlier. It was obtained by BuzzFeed through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The U.S. intelligence community ultimately concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized an interference campaign targeting Mr. Trump’s former opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and released an official report in early January formally blaming Moscow for meddling in the election and outlining its involvement, spurring separate probes in the House, Senate and Justice Department. Russia has denied the allegations.

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