April 23, 2017

Obama Administration Spread Info on Alleged Russian Interference in Elections

03 March 2017, 01:07 | Clarence Schmidt

FILE Jan. 23 2017 National Intelligence Director nominee former Indiana Sen Dan Coats

FILE Jan. 23 2017 National Intelligence Director nominee former Indiana Sen Dan Coats

The committee will conduct interviews, take witness testimony and review the material that supported the intelligence community's January finding that Russian cyber-activity was aimed at boosting Trump's chances of becoming president.

Congress legally ended the CIA's use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques in 2015, through an amendment Coats - then a senator - voted against. That restoration of the centrality of the Central Intelligence Agency director, reversing a trend set by a 2004 structural reform emerging from the 9/11 commission, has raised questions about Coats's relevance.

"I'm fully prepared to assume the responsibilities", Coats replied.

Coats also faced tough questions on potential Russian interference in US elections and was pointedly asked if he would support the committee's investigation into the matter. What followed was a push to preserve the intelligence that underscored the deep anxiety with which the White House and American intelligence agencies had come to view the threat from Moscow.

Striking a significantly more hawkish tone toward Russian Federation than Trump has, Coats said Russian Federation has carried out similar operations elsewhere, including in Europe, and seems to have "stepped up their game". Instead, the moves were carried out by administration officials who became increasingly convinced that the information was "damning" and who became concerned by statements Trump made as Inauguration Day loomed near.

What did Trump officials know and how were they involved with these efforts?

Mr Sessions said: "I have no idea what this allegation is about".

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According to The New York Times, the Obama Administration began a concerted effort to shovel raw intelligence files about Team Trump's connections with Russian Federation throughout the government, even lowering clearances to see the information. He served for years on the Senate intelligence committee, the very group that was tasked with grilling him today.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, warned reporters on Thursday that they could find themselves under investigation if they continued to ask questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' ties to Russian Federation. Over the weekend, Warner said he had "grave concerns" about Burr cooperating with the White House, stressing that he "will not accept any process that is undermined by political interference". Republicans have the majority on the committee and hold 52 seats in the full Senate.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about counterterrorism and the U.S. fight against the Islamic State during an address to the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., December 6, 2016.

Though Trump aides denied those reports, Trump's restructuring of the National Security Council through executive order removed a permanent seat for the director on the powerful principals committee and ultimately gave it to Central Intelligence Agency director Pompeo.

In further questioning from lawmakers Coats added, "I think it's publicly known and acknowledged and accepted that Russian Federation definitely did try to influence the campaign".

"I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation knows", Schiff said, adding that if the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't cooperate voluntarily, the committee will have to contemplate whether to subpoena information from Comey's agency.

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