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John Brennan says he would testify before Congress and reacts to Durham investigation

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 9/18/2020 Daniel Chaitin
John O. Brennan et al. looking at a person in a suit and tie © Provided by Washington Examiner

Former CIA Director John Brennan opened up about various inquiries into the Russia investigation during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC.

After the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted to authorize the use of a subpoena against him in its investigation, Brennan shrugged off the implications of the vote.

He said the chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, and another top Republican conducting a separate review of the Russia investigation, Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham, "don’t have the — ." After stopping himself mid-sentence, Brennan said, "Let me correct that: They don’t have the interest in calling me up in front of their committees and to testify publicly in front of the American people."

Graham vowed to call Brennan to testify in May, and Brennan was among the dozens of officials from the Obama administration whom Johnson gained broad authority to subpoena on Wednesday. Neither Johnson nor Graham immediately responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.

Although Brennan criticized their "hyperpartisan, politically corrupt effort to try to create an environment prior to the election that casts Donald Trump in a positive light and Joe Biden in a negative light," he said he would be "happy" to talk to Johnson's and Graham's panels, just as he did with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation. "They don’t have to subpoena me," Brennan added.

MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace asked him to expound upon that interview with Durham's team last month, which Brennan's longtime aide said took place at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for eight hours. Wallace, who served as White House communications during the George W. Bush presidency, asked if “it felt like they were criminalizing your conduct in an aggressive manner” or if Durham’s “motives were less than wholesome.”

Brennan's response was his first public description of that interview in his own words.

“No. I think they were testing various theories they had heard and were asking for my views and recollections on things. But it was handled in a very professional manner," he said.

That echoes some of what Nick Shapiro, Brennan's former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, said in his statement about the interview. Shapiro also said Brennan was told he is "not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation, and that he is only a witness to events that are under review," and noted the former CIA director confronted Durham about the politicization of his efforts.

In what has been dubbed the "Obamagate" controversy, President Trump's supporters believe top officials in the Obama administration sought to sabotage Trump's candidacy in 2016 and later his presidency, and many of them have called for indictments. Democrats and national security veterans have warned of a possible politicized “October surprise.”

Brennan said he is "very concerned" about Nora Dannehy, a top prosecutor on Durham's team, resigning last week reportedly over possible concerns that Attorney General William Barr was pressing them to release a report before the November election.

Barr recently denied that he is being pressured by Trump in his handling of Durham’s inquiry and claimed that any actions taken won't affect the 2020 election. The attorney general has stressed the Durham review will abide by Justice Department guidelines and repeatedly said former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, are not under criminal investigation, despite urging from Trump to rope them in.

Senate Democrats, including vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, sent a letter to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz on Thursday asking him to begin an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of Durham’s inquiry. Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and for the bureau's reliance on the Democratic-funded discredited dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

Barr has said the two main goals of Durham’s investigation are sussing out the truth and exploring possible criminal charges. Only one person, Kevin Clinesmith, has been indicted in Durham’s inquiry so far. The former FBI lawyer, who played a role in both the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's improper private email server and the Russia investigation, pleaded guilty to a false statements charge for fraudulently altering a CIA email to state that Page was “not a source.”

Brennan also weighed in to criticize Barr’s speech on Wednesday to a gathering at Hillsdale College, a conservative school in Michigan.

“When I hear what Barr is saying about professional prosecutors, I’m surprised there’s not an insurrection in the Department of Justice,” Brennan said. “It is just appalling what he has said and he has denigrated his own people.”

Barr’s speech decried the “criminalization of politics” while calling for line prosecutors to be reined in and Justice Department leadership to assert itself.

“Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency … Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters,” Barr told the crowd, adding, “Because I am ultimately accountable for every decision the department makes, I have an obligation to ensure we make the correct ones.”

Tags: News, John Brennan, CIA, John Durham, Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, Congress, Justice Department, William Barr

Original Author: Daniel Chaitin

Original Location: John Brennan says he would testify before Congress and reacts to Durham investigation

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