- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Former CIA Director John Brennan is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence committee on Tuesday as part of a congressional probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

A three decade veteran of the CIA, Mr. Brennan served as director of America’s leading spy agency from 2013 until retiring when Donald Trump became president in January. Last year he helped compile the U.S. intelligence community assessment that Russia attempted to tip the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Tuesday’s hearing, which starts open to the public before going behind closed doors, could offer some explosive revelations.

In March, Mr. Brennan was set to testify before the same committee alongside former acting Attorney General Sally Yates until then-probe chairman Rep. Devin Nunes cancelled the hearing. Democrats denounced the move as a bid to shield the White House. Expectations were that Mr Brennan and Ms. Yates would contradict Trump White House claims. Mr. Nunes has since recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Mr. Brennan’s testimony also comes a day after former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn refused to hand files to the Senate Intelligence committee’s Russia probe.

On Monday, Mr. Flynn invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination, his lawyers said.

The Senate panel had subpoenaed the retired general to hand over documents dating back to June 2015 related to his contact with foreign governments and his Trump campaign activity.

Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, two other former top Trump campaign aides, have reportedly complied with the Senate committee’s request for information.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hear about “Worldwide Threats” from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Mr. Trump urged Mr. Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny there had been any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Both officials refused to comply with the request, the newspaper said, citing current and former officials.

Brennan’s way with words

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump will continue to distance himself from the multiple Russia probes while continuing on what thus far has been seen as an eventful and successful first international trip as president. But back in Washington, Russia will dominate the headlines.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Democrats are expected to continue denouncing Mr. Trump’s relationship to Russia while Republicans look to argue that former Obama officials illegally collected surveillance on Trump campaign officials, then leaked the information.

Republican members of the committee could try and corner Mr. Brennan on that subject.

The former CIA directors confrontations with the Trump administration have been well documented

On his first full day as president, Mr. Trump visited CIA headquarters and delivered remarks which mixed tributes to the professionalism of the nation’s intelligence agents with political remarks, attacks on the media and a review of the debate over the size of his Inauguration Day crowd.

Through a spokesman, Mr. Brennan called the speech a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement” and added that Mr. Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”

In Washington Mr. Brennan is known for his “Jesuit-like” demeanor. A former career CIA analyst, Saudi Arabia station chief, and chief of staff to former CIA director George J. Tenet, he is considered a pioneer of CIA counterterrorism operations.

He helped the Bush administration establish the The National Counterterrorism Center in 2004.

Mr. Brennan has also been referred to by senior intelligence officials as a bridge between administrations, and something of a bridge between the Cold War and 9/11 wars. His work on controversial post-9/11 detention and interrogation policies, in addition to being the architect of the Obama-era drone war against terrorists — have been heavily denounced by liberal critics.

The following are some of Mr. Brennan’s more memorable quotes from recent years:

“We need to make sure that leaks of classified information, of national security secrets, needs to be rigorously pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said while speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington in August 2012. Mr. Brennan was discussing a series of leaks at the Obama White House, which detailed “kill lists” for terrorist suspects, a computer virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear program, and a double agent who infiltrated Al Qaeda.

“I have a reputation for speaking my mind. I like to think my candor and bluntness will give you the answers you are looking for. The men and women of the CIA are a national treasure,” he said in February 2013 during his Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director, which was disrupted by protesters criticizing his stance toward enhanced interrogation, and other policies.

“This is not a ‘war on terror.’…We cannot let the terror prism guide how we’re going to interact and be involved in different parts of the world,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post in August 2009 while serving as the Obama administration’s senior counterterrorism adviser. Mr. Brennan added that US government needed to fundamentally redefine the struggle against terrorism, replacing the “war on terror” with an effort that combined economic, diplomatic and cultural levers to diminish and defeat Islamist radical enemies.

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