Ex-CIA Dir. Brennan: I briefed Congress on Russian election interference, they didn't get 'importance and gravity'

Former CIA Director John Brennan sent an internal memo to CIA employees last December in which he said some of the members of Congress he'd briefed on the CIA's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections did not “understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue.”

He meant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. If only they had.



From the Buzzfeed report, brought to you in part by some tireless FOIA journalists:

Brennan’s December 16, 2016 memo did not identify the lawmakers who expressed skepticism about the CIA’s judgment that Russia helped Donald Trump win the election. But three intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News that Brennan’s criticism was directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Cornyn, the Majority Whip. At the time, the two Republican lawmakers downplayed the importance of the CIA’s intelligence. Cornyn said it was “hardly news.”

Four congressional committees are now investigating Russia’s role in the presidential election and ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

The Brennan memo offers rare insight into a tense time when it was under pressure by the White House and Congress to produce evidence to support its conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the election. It was obtained by BuzzFeed News and Ryan Shapiro, an MIT doctoral candidate and co-founder of the transparency project Operation 45, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CIA and other intelligence agencies for documents about Russia’s role in the election.

Neither the CIA nor Brennan commented for the Buzzfeed story.

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