Sen. Richard Burr, who leads the Senate Selective Committee on Intelligence, issued a sharp rebuke of former CIA Director John Brennan, saying that if he has evidence of Russian collusion he should have presented it to his panel.
The North Carolina Republican’s statement was remarkable in that he has adhered to a strict nonpartisan approach as the committee pursues a more than yearlong investigation into Russia’s hacking Democratic Party computers and other interference.
After President Trump revoked Mr. Brennan’s security clearance Thursday, the ex-top spy claimed there is no doubt candidate Trump colluded with the Kremlin. On Twitter, Mr. Brennan has accused the president of committing felonies, such as treason. He has asserted Mr. Trump is being blackmailed by Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Burr suggested Mr. Brennan has become a partisan ex-director whose statements are “purely political and based on conjecture.”
Republicans, now including Mr. Burr, say Mr. Brennan spent hours before both the House and Senate intelligence committees and presented no confirmed evidence of collusion. The Republican majority of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a final report this spring that said they found no collusion.
Here is Mr. Burr’s statement:
“Director Brennan’s recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power. If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017? If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach. If he has some other personal knowledge of or evidence of collusion, it should be disclosed to the Special Counsel, not The New York Times.
“If, however, Director Brennan’s statement is purely political and based on conjecture, the president has full authority to revoke his security clearance as head of the Executive Branch.”
Republican view Mr. Brennan as a supremely political figure who gets paid handsomely by MSNBC, an anti-Trump channel, to bash Mr. Trump.
Mr. Brennan was a prime mover in the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016.
During the election, he fed the FBI information on any Trump associate who reported contact with a Russian.
Mr. Brennan told the House intelligence committee in May 2017:
“I wanted to make sure that every information and bit of intelligence that we had was shared with the bureau [FBI] so that they could take it. It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.”
Asked by a Republican member what the Trump and Russians talked about, he answered that he did not know.
He also took information from the discredited dossier — financed by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party — and briefed it to congressional leaders.
Then-Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, put the dossier allegations into a letter to the FBI and leaked it to the New York Times during the election.
Mr. Brennan wrote in the New York Times this week:
“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.”
In revoking his security clearance, Mr. Trump said, “Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the internet and television — about this administration.
After Mr. Trump botched his press conference question in Helsinki on Russian hacking, Mr. Brennan tweeted, “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
Mr. Brennan was at the White House when Mr. Obama launched his “Russian reset” policy that met some of Mr. Putin’s demands, such as not stationing anti-missile interceptors in Poland. Mr. Obama defended Mr. Putin against charges from Mitt Romney that Russia was the U.S. No. 1 adversary.
Mr. Brennan is not alone among the Obama alumni in accusing Mr. Trump of criminal activity.
James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, is paid by CNN, another anti-Trump network. He has said that Mr. Trump is an illegal agent of Russia, but offered no proof.
Mr. Burr told the Associated Press that after 19 months of investigating there is “no factual evidence today that we’ve received” on Trump-Russia collusion.