Former CIA Director John Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, providing information regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The hearing marked the first time that Brennan publicly expressed concern over the link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, The New York Times reports. Brennan was originally scheduled to testify in March, but the hearing was unexpectedly postponed by the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, who wanted to speak privately with former FBI Director James Comey and National Security Director Mike Rogers.
Brennan began his testimony on Tuesday by stating that “it should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election. Indeed, numerous U.S. intelligence agencies have expressed confidence that Russia was responsible for the hacking of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to Brennan, he first became worried about Russian interference last summer, prompting him to raise his concerns to Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, who denied the claims. “I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter,” Brennan said. Brennan also informed the committee that he hosted classified briefings to inform senior members of Congress that Russia was attempting to influence the election’s outcome.