Quigley Statement on HPSCI Open Hearing
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), released the following statement on the Committee’s open hearing with former CIA Director, John Brennan. A video and transcript of Rep. Quigley’s line of questioning is also included below.
“Today’s open hearing was another step forward in our ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in our democratic process. As we continue to learn more about Russia’s actions to influence the 2016 presidential election, as well as the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine investigations into the matter, the importance of our work is made even more clear. I look forward to additional opportunities to hold public hearings, conduct interviews, review documents, and follow the facts wherever they lead. Director Brennan’s public acknowledgement of concern about contact between Trump campaign staff and Russian officials underscores the need to carry on quickly—and correctly.”
Click here to watch the video.
REP. QUIGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Director, for your service. So you said you became aware of U.S. persons’ interactions with the Russians, and you mentioned your radar going up. Is a part of that who the Russians were, that were meeting?
BRENNAN: I’m sorry?
REP. QUIGLEY: Was part of your concern not just the fact that there were interactions, but who the particular Russians were?
BRENNAN: Yes, it was on both sides, yeah. The nature of the context and the communicants.
REP. QUIGLEY: It’s not just the fact that they met?
REP. QUIGLEY: You said, and I want to make sure I had your words correctly, you knew that meant there was a basis to pull these threads. Can you elaborate on what that means, generally?
BRENNAN: Well, frequently, and even just totally divorced from the presidential election issue, if there are Russian—known or suspected Russian intelligence officers who seem to be cultivating contacts with U.S. persons, and there are reasons for CIA or others to be concerned about what is happening there, we would make sure the Bureau is aware of it. We wouldn’t know what those follow-up investigative steps were, taken by the Bureau, because of appropriate privacy rights and civil liberties of U.S. persons. But the Bureau has the primary responsibility on U.S. soil to follow its counter-intelligence leads wherever they may go. CIA has very unique counter-intelligence authorities as well, and we have a unique collection of authorities that make us the partner with the Bureau in this matter because we have the intelligence liaison relationships with our foreign service sister services; we have covert action responsibilities; we have clandestine collection responsibilities and authorities; we have all sorts of analytic capabilities—the best analysts in the U.S. government bar none. So that combination of talent and capabilities is able to give the Bureau what they need and that’s why any type of suspicion that we have, that something may be afoot here, that the Russians are trying to get—and it’s not just the Russians, it’s other foreign services as well; we make sure the Bureau is fully apprised of that. And that’s why we have FBI agents who are serving inside of CIA’s counter-intelligence elements.
REP. QUIGLEY: Thank you. Switching topics here, Miss Speier mentioned the sanctions and how they’re impacting the Russians. You talked about how the Russians are attempting to avoid these sanctions; they’re getting aid from others, but they’re also using money laundering, correct?
BRENNAN: Yes, they do.
REP. QUIGLEY: And can you elaborate just how extensive that is and where they’re doing it primarily?
BRENNAN: I would defer to some of the experts in the CIA as well as Department of Treasury and others but money laundering is a long-practiced effort in the part of Russian businesses, Russian government officials, and others, as well as Russian intelligence services in order to cover their tracks and to be able to carry out their illegal, illicit, even immoral, activities.
REP. QUIGLEY: Avoiding taxes, sanctions?
BRENNAN: I’m sorry?
REP. QUIGLEY: Avoiding taxes, sanctions?
BRENNAN: Avoiding any number of problems for them, and they become very adept over the years at money laundering.
REP. QUIGLEY: Are you familiar with which particular country or countries that they’re principally involved with money laundering?
BRENNAN: I’m aware of some, but again I would defer to the agency at this time to identify the priority ones.
REP. QUIGLEY: Cyprus?
BRENNAN: They use banking institutions in a number of countries. A lot of times what they’re doing with some of the financial elements in countries is unbeknownst to the governments, and so there are a number of financial centers around the world that the Russians have become quite active in.
REP. QUIGLEY: And I agree that the home country may not be aware and probably isn’t aware of all that is taking place, but you would certainly be aware and concerned if there were U.S. persons involved with those financial institutions, correct?
BRENNAN: Anything that we might uncover related to that we would make sure that the Bureau, the Department of Treasury, and others are aware of it. They’re the ones that need to follow up in terms of whether or not there’s any criminal activity.
REP. QUIGLEY: And were there areas concern in Cyprus involving this with U.S. persons in financial institutions there?
BERNNAN: Well, I think it is a well-known fact that there is a large Russian presence, a large business interests, a large financial interest a part of Russia in Cyprus. And so again, any type of involvement of U.S. persons or companies, it would be the responsibility of the FBI and other U.S. agencies, not CIA, to follow up on that.
REP. QUIGLEY: Finally, if a U.S. president asked any Intel official not to pursue an investigateon, would you construe that as obstruction?
BRENNAN: I do not have a legal basis to determine what constitutes obstruction of justice.
REP. QUIGLEY: How would you react if a president had asked you not to pursue an investigation?
BRENNAN: I have never been asked that, and if I was, I would certainly would not, I would not follow such directive.
REP. QUIGLEY: Thank you. I yield back.