Brennan Says It's 'Puzzling' Why Trump Keeps Downplaying Russia Interference

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper

The president, who now has new people heading all three agencies, said Sunday that he has worked "very strongly" with the new leadership in US intelligence.

Trump's refusal to hold Putin accountable for Russia's interference in the election baffled Clapper, who noted that the evidence presented by the U.S intelligence community in January reinforced "the depth and magnitude and scope and the aggressiveness of the Russian interference".

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday the Obama administration's response to Russian election interference during the 2016 election cycle was "appropriate", saying there were reasons for the White House's discretion at the time.

The situation has been further exacerbated after Trump claimed that Putin was "insulted" and irritated by repeated questions of Russian meddling in the election.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" alongside former CIA Director John Brennan, Clapper said: "The threat posed by Russian Federation, as John just said, is manifest and obvious".

Former CIA Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Shapiro weighed in on Twitter, writing, "Had Obama listened to the Pakistanis over U.S. intelligence officials - like Trump is listening to Putin - SEAL Team Six never would have gotten Bin Laden".

Brennan fired back at the president's claims that he, Clapper, and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey were "political hacks".

Hours earlier, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that Putin reiterated to him that he didn't meddle in the election. "We did not write that assessment", Brennan shot back. "He said he didn't meddle", Trump said, referring to Putin.

"He said he didn't meddle, he said he didn't meddle". You can only ask so many times.

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"He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities", Clapper said.

At a June conference in Aspen, Colo., Pompeo was asked numerous times whether he believed Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential election. I just asked him again.

Clapper was likely referring to reports over the last two months revealing Russia's extensive use of Facebook and Twitter to create fake accounts, buy ads, spread junk news, and organize divisive rallies across the country in an effort to sow discord leading up to last year's election. "He did not do what they're saying he did".

"Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process", Clapper said.

Clapper added on Sunday that there should be no illusions or ambiguity about the fact that Russian Federation does not "harbor good intentions towards the United States".

But Trump had already relayed Putin's reaction to the US intelligence community's conclusions on Russian interference, CNN's Tapper pointed out Sunday, and further noted that the Russian president was insulted by this conclusion.

"I think the intelligence community, law enforcement, have their counterintelligence antennae up all of the time, and i think we did a pretty admirable job", Brennan said. Trump called Comey a "liar" and a "leaker" and suggested Putin's credibility was stronger than theirs.

"I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump's interest in being flattered".

Brennan added: "I think he's giving Putin a pass". A special counsel and several congressional committees are investigating whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.

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