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Ex-CIA Director Brennan says Nunes "abused" his office with memo

Former CIA Director John Brennan on Sunday raised alarms over Republican actions that have become a focus in the various ongoing Russia investigations.

by Kailani Koenig /  / Updated 
Former CIA Director John Brennan says that he is "appalled" by the tenor of partisan fighting in Washington, and that it hurts the intelligence community on Meet the Press on Feb. 4, 2017.NBC News

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WASHINGTON — Former CIA Director John Brennan on Sunday criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, saying the GOP lawmaker "abused" his office by issuing a memo with intelligence information declassified by President Donald Trump last week.

Republicans on that committee released a controversial memo Friday charging that senior law enforcement officials improperly omitted political motivations in requests for a FISA warrant monitoring former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. GOP committee members voted down the release of a Democratic-authored aimed at refuting those charges.

“That Devin Nunes and Republicans denied the ability of the minority, the Democrat members of that committee, to put out its report is just appalling,” Brennan said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.”

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“I think it, it really underscores just how partisan Mr. Nunes has been. He has abused the office of the chairmanship of HPSCI. And I don't say that lightly."

Brennan charged that Nunes, who previously served on the Trump transition team, “has been engaged in these tactics purely to defend, make excuses and try to protect Mr. Trump.” He added that if the chairman was considerably concerned over any FISA abuses, he should have brought in members of the FBI and others to interviews before their committee before publicly releasing such a report.

“But he didn't do that,” Brennan said. “He just put out publicly one side in a very selective, cherry-picked memo.”

Nunes spokesman Jack Langer responded to Brennan on Sunday afternoon, telling NBC News in a statement that "there was an abuse of power, but it was not by the Chairman, who strictly followed House rules to make the Committee’s memo public. The abuse of power was the use of unverified information bought and paid for by one political campaign to justify government surveillance of associates of the opposing political campaign.”

Brennan is a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC News and served as CIA Director and Homeland Security Adviser under former President Barack Obama as well as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center under former President George W. Bush.

On Sunday, he also asserted that the June, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower involving Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and several Russians, which emails revealed was set up under the guise that the Russians could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton, was reckless on the part of those close to Trump.

“I find it foolish number one, and also irresponsible,” Brennan said. Senior members of a campaign “need to be aware of what it is that they need to do in order to make sure that they stay on the right side of the law as well as the right side of ethics," he said. "And I find it inexplicable in terms of how that meeting took place and interest in part of individuals, very close to Mr. Trump, who wanted to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russians.”

He believes the meeting could have been a result of “a fair amount of naiveté on the part of individuals who were part of the Trump campaign — individuals who maybe were unaware of what their obligations were or just how diabolical the Russians can be in terms of their cultivation of individuals to work on their behalf.”

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