- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2018

Former C.I.A. Director John Brennan on Sunday chastised the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Sunday for his handling of a bombshell memo that delved into the secretive world of surveillance courts, saying the push to expose bias at the FBI was one-sided and shut out opposing views.

Mr. Brennan, who served under President Obama, said Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, could have held hearings to expose potential problems at the FBI, but instead put out “very selective, cherry-picked” memo without allowing Democrats to offer a rebuttal memo.

“I never, ever saw the Democrats do something like this that was so partisan, so reckless and really just laid waste to the protocols that governed committees,” Mr. Brennan told NBC’s Meet the Press. “And Devin Nunes, over the past several months, all the way back to the spring of last year I think has been engaged in these tactics purely to defend, make excuses and try to protect Mr. Trump.”

Mr. Brennan acknowledged that he once slammed Senate Democrats for releasing the so-called “torture report,” though he felt Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California kept all sides informed at the time.

Mr. Nunes and other top Republicans say they had no choice but to detail the FBI’s use of material by ex-British spy Christopher Steele in seeking a warrant to snoop on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, in October 2016.

Mr. Steele had been paid by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign to compile information on alleged interactions between the Trump team and Russian actors.

Top Republicans say the FBI divulged Mr. Steele’s role as a political actor but concealed the direct link to Mr. Trump’s rivals.

Critics of the memo say the role of the Steele dossier has been overblown, since the FBI showed an interest in the Trump camp as early as summer of 2016.

“It did not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessments that was done, that was presented to then-President Obama and then-President-elect Trump,” Mr. Brennan said.

The former CIA chief said he couldn’t go into detail about the intelligence, but felt it “would have been derelict if the F.B.I. did not pull the threads, investigative threads, on American persons who might have been involved with Russia and working on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”

He said it was “foolish,” for instance, for Donald Trump Jr. to agree to a meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower to get dirt on Mrs. Clinton.

“I believe that there was a fair amount of naiveté on the part of individuals who were part of the Trump campaign,” he said. “Individuals who maybe were unaware of what their obligations were or just how diabolical the Russians can be in terms of their cultivation of individuals to work on their behalf.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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