Nightly News   |  March 11, 2014

CIA Director Under Fire, Accused of Spying on Senate

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, CIA Director John Brennan said, “We weren’t trying to block anything.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back in this country, in washington today, tensions between the cia and a senior member of the u.s. senate boiled over, with senate intelligence chair dianne feinstein , democrat of california now openly accusing the spy agency of spying on congress. nbc 's andrea mitchell following the story, spoke exclusively today with the director of the cia . andrea, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. this is a knife fight. senate democrats investigating past abuses by the cia accusing the cia director one of the president's closest advisers of spying on the senate . cia director john brennan under fire today, accuses of spying on senate investigators, talking exclusively to nbc news.

>> we weren't trying to block anything, the matter is being dealt with in the appropriate way.

>> john brennan 's words.

>> reporter: but in a scathing speech, dianne feinstein accused brennan 's cia of secretly tracking the senate 's investigation into one of the worst abuses in recent cia history. the detention and interrogation under george w. bush , widely viewed as torture.

>> i have grave concerns that the cia search may well have violated the separation of powers , principles embodied in the united states constitution .

>> feinstein's charge that the cia hacked secure computers the senate was using, trying to hide the smoking gun of brennan 's own policies. brennan oversaw the cia secret prisons and the controversial interrogations of terror suspects under george w. bush . brennan today at the council on foreign relations , denied he has interfered with the senate investigation. if it is proved that the cia did do this, would you feel that you had to step down?

>> if i did something wrong, i will go to the president and explain to him exactly what i did, and what the findings were, and he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.

>> reporter: brennan 's counter charge in the letter to the senate obtained by nbc , that the senate 's staff improperly took sensitive documents from the cia . brennan wrote, it is imperative to learn whether or not a breach or vulnerability exists. the senate says it was only trying to safeguard proof of cia abuses. fearing the cia would destroy the evidence. blen brennan has an extremely close relationship with president obama . and today the white house stood by him.

>> the president has great confidence in director brennan , yes.

>> reporter: the senate torture investigation has been going on for more than five years. now, the justice department is investigating whether the cia broke the law by spying on the senate . and also, whether the senate broke the law by secretly taking cia documents. brian?

>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight, thanks.