CIA Director: ‘I haven’t seen’ proof of Russian interference claims
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has said he hasn’t seen any evidence of Russian interference in the US election, but that the Trump administration took the allegations very seriously.
During his first interview with CBS News at CIA headquarters, Pompeo was asked whether he had seen any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
“I wasn’t on the campaign,” Pompeo replied. “I haven’t seen it.”
“I can only say this: I’ve watched this administration deal with all of our adversaries in a way that has been robust. The CIA, as part of that, is doing our part,” he added.
.@CIA Director Mike Pompeo on PDB: “It's absolutely important that we deliver information to the President in a way that in the time that can be allotted to this, that he can grasp the central information that we're trying to deliver to him.” Only on @CBSThisMorningpic.twitter.com/9XMRbnanL7— Norah O'Donnell🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) January 22, 2018
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that allegations of his campaign colluding with Russia were “fake news” and a “total hoax.” Most recently, he excoriated the mainstream media on his Twitter page on January 16.
"Do you notice the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems. Public gets it!"
Do you notice the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative. The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems. Public gets it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
The reference to the Democratic Party presumably applies to the alleged wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton in approving a uranium deal with a Russian company.
Pompeo said allegations of Russian interference in American democracy were being taken seriously, adding, “ I wish it had been taken this seriously previously.”
CBS said it was former CIA director John Brennan who reportedly alerted the FBI to contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, a central focus of the ongoing investigation.
As to what steps were being taken to counter interferences in 2018 and in the next presidential election in 2020, Pompeo was somewhat vague.
“It's a very important question. I can't answer it,” said the spymaster. “I can only tell you this: There is a major push, not only from the CIA but all of this administration, this government, to do everything we can to prevent that from happening in 2018, in 2020, in 2030, and beyond."
The former Republican congressman from Kansas said he was ringing the changes at the spy agency.
“We are doing things today that the CIA was not doing a year ago, and there's more risk attached to those," Pompeo said.
He confirmed that this meant expanding US covert and clandestine operations, as “almost certainly, I want the president to have the best intelligence in the world.”
Asked about what kind of legacy he wanted to leave, Pompeo was emphatic: “I think our adversaries should know this when Mike Pompeo leaves as the director of the CIA, this organization will be more vicious, more aggressive, more inclined to take risks to come directly at the threats that America and the world faces. If I do that I will be very proud.”