Testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan said he is unaware of any efforts by President Trump or his staff to pressure the intelligence community into dropping the criminal investigation surrounding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Brennan served under President Obama.
Ranking Member Adam Schiff: In respect to a number of allegations made recently that the president of his aides may have sought to enlist the help of members the IC [intelligence community] or Director Comey himself to drop the Flynn investigation. Have any members of the IC shared with you their concerns that the president was attempting to enlist the help of people within the intelligence community to drop the Flynn investigation?
Brennan: No sir.
Schiff: Are you aware of any efforts the president has made to enlist the help of the intelligence community to push back on a narrative involving the collusion issue?
Brennan: I am unaware of it.
The premise of the question asked by Schiff comes from a New York Times story published last week that alleges President Trump pressured former FBI Director James Comey to drop the case before he was fired.
President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
The memo cited as evidence in the story has not been released.
Nearly two weeks ago, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified there had been no interference in the Bureau's ability to continue its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 president election.
Earlier this month, Comey testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and said nobody at the Department of Justice had tried to derail the FBI's investigation of Flynn.
The White House has denied pressuring anyone in any government agency to stop any investigation related to Russia.
[SENATOR] HIRONO: Yes. And so speaking of the independence of not just the judiciary but I’d like you to clarify the FBI’s independence from the DOJ apparatus. Can the FBI conduct an investigation independent from the department of Justice. Or does the FBI have to disclose all it’s investigations to the DOJ? And does it have to get the Attorney General’s consent?
COMEY: Well we work with the Department of Justice, whether that’s main justice or U.S. attorney’s offices on all of our investigations.
And so we work with them and so in a legal sense we’re not independent of the department of justice. We are spiritually, culturally pretty independent group and that’s the way you would want tit. But yes, we work with the Department of Justice on all of our investigations.
HIRONO: So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
COMEY: In theory yes.
HIRONO: Has it happened?
COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.
This post has been updated with an additional quote.