WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R), S.C., grilled former CIA director John Brennan on proof of collusion between president Donald Trump and Russian agencies to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
During a period of often heated exchanges Gowdy repeatedly pressed Brennan for hard evidence that President Trump or representatives of his campaign worked with Russia to rig the election’s outcome.
Each time a visibly frustrated Gowdy asked Brennan for a scintilla of evidence that Trump was involved in the alleged plot, or even a gesture of proof that evidence to support the allegations existed, Brennan answered with the same response: “Mr. Gowdy, I don’t do evidence.”
During one particularly tense exchange, Gowdy fired back, “I appreciate that you don’t do evidence, Director Brennan. Unfortunately, that’s what I do.”
“That’s the word we use, you use the word assessment, you use the word tradecraft. I use the word evidence,” Gowdy continued. “And the good news for me is lots of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle use the word evidence, too. One of my colleagues said there is more than circumstantial evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.”
To that, Brennan responded: “I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”
“That doesn’t help us a whole lot,” Gowdy smirked.
“There are a bunch of words that start with ‘C’ floating around,” Gowdy continued. “I asked you about collusion, coordination, and conspiracy, and you used the word ‘contact,’” Gowdy said. “…Contact could be benign or not benign. So was it contact you saw…what was the nature of what you saw?”
“I saw interaction,” Brennan replied. “But I don’t know. I don’t have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not there was cooperation or complicity or collusion.”
Brennan’s appearance comes as Democrats push to investigate what, if anything, Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey had to do with his investigation into the president’s alleged ties to Russia.