President Trump proudly crowed when Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) announced that the Senate Intelligence committee which he chairs has yet to find conclusive evidence of “anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” at least based upon the facts the committee has gathered to date.
While Burr”s ranking Democratic counterpart on the committee, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), respectfully disagrees with that conclusion — saying that “I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back” — Trump sent out his premature victory tweet nonetheless.
Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
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Actually, everyone was really surprised by this conclusion about a lack of collusion, given the number of senior Trump campaign operatives who have either pleaded guilty or been convicted due to indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s separate investigation into the matter.
Now, former CIA Director John Brennan, one of Trump’s most intractable critics, has weighed in on Senator’s Burr’s contention that the Senate investigation has found “no direct evidence” of a conspiracy between the president and the Kremlin, saying that Burr’s statement was not actually within the purview of the intelligence committee.
Brennan told MSNBC‘s Nicolle Wallace that only Mueller’s team has been assigned the job of determining whether Trump’s open advocacy of an agenda that coincidentally dovetails in perfect alignment with Russsian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy aims “rises to the level of criminal conspiracy” and “whether [the Trump campaign] violated the law.”
“I know the Senate Intelligence Committee came out and said they found no direct evidence of criminal conspiracy,” Brennan said, “but that’s not the Senate Intelligence Committee’s [job].”
Brennan appeared disappointed that the Senate committee failed to recognize the machinations of collusion that he says “happened in plain sight.”
“How did the government respond?” Brennan asked, before enumerating a series of potential questions the committee should have answered. “The intelligence community, the law enforcement community, what can we do to better prepare ourselves in the future to prevent the Russians from interfering in the election?”
“These are the things that our congressional committees should be doing,” he explained, “but criminal investigations should be left to the Department of Justice, the FBI and the special counsel.”
Nicolle Wallace described Brennan’s answer to her questions about the president’s claim of exoneration as a “truth bomb” dropped by the former CIA Director on the misconception that the media and the public at large may have gotten from Burr’s statement and Trump’s tweet — that “somehow, Donald Trump was cleared of collusion by the Senate Intel Committee.”
Brennan went on to explain why he considers the Senate Committee’s investigation to be inadequate for the task of determining any potential criminal conduct by the president and his staff.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee does not have the investigative tools and capabilities and powers in the subpoenas and being able to pull financial records and other types of things that the special counsel has,” Brennan responded. “So, yes, they interviewed a number of witnesses. Yes, they looked at a lot of documents. Yes, they talked to the intelligence community. But that doesn’t mean that they conducted a criminal investigation. Again, that’s what the special counsel and the FBI is doing. We need to separate the two.”
You can watch the video of MSNBC‘s Nicolle Wallace’s interview with former CIA Director John Brennan in the clip below:
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Noor Al-Sibai at RawStory.