The former Obama administration official who admitted earlier this month that her former colleagues tried to secretly gather intelligence on President Trump’s team was no low-level staffer.
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Evelyn Farkas was once considered the most senior policy officer for Russia within the Pentagon, and she is now apparently defending the leaks that have been coming out of the Trump White House.
Now an MSNBC analyst and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Farkas has "advised three secretaries of defense on Russia policy," according to a senior defense official quoted in Politico. She has served on the Council on Foreign Relations and the Senate Armed Services Committee, among others, and was executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism in 2008-2009.
In an appearance on MSNBC earlier this month, Farkas told Mika Brezinski about her role in the efforts to collect intelligence on Trump’s team, and their alleged ties with Russia, in the Obama adminstration’s final days.
“I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill... get as much information as you can," Farkas said, adding that her big fear was "if [Trump staffers] found out how we knew what we knew about their ... the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.”
At the end of the interview, Farkas said, "we have good intelligence on Russia... that's why you have the leaking. People are worried."
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Farkas was responding to a report in The New York Times suggesting the "Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking."
Farkas notably served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia under President Obama, and parted ways with the White House in 2015 after some five years amid the ongoing debate over how to respond to Russia's role in the unfolding conflict in Ukraine. Farkas reportedly supported Ukraine's request for weapons in the fight against Russian-backed rebels. The White House opted to send millions in "nonlethal" aid.
On May 6, 2014, Farkas told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia's actions threatened to upend the international peace "that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War."
News of her resignation broke just over a year later, at the end of September 2015. It was on Sept. 28, 2015, that President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
At the time, a senior U.S. defense official said Farkas’ departure was not related to a policy dispute and that she was leaving the job after five years for an opportunity outside of government. Her resignation also came just days after Gen. John Allen announced his departure as the point person for ISIS policy at the State Department.
Farkas would go on to serve as a foreign policy advisor for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, telling the New Yorker earlier this month that she thought Clinton "got it" when it came to issues regarding Russia.
Retired Army Major General William L. Nash, a former commander of U.S. forces in Bosnia who was reportedly known for his "bluntness and political acumen," worked with Farkas on the Council on Foreign Relations and speaks highly of his former colleague.
In a statement to Fox News, Nash suggested that he found Farkas "to be of very sound judgment [sic] and high intelligence," and that he believed her opinions to be "quite insightful." Nash added that he hopes lawmakers will take advantage of Farkas' “expertise,” and get to the bottom of what he calls "the Russian espionage and disinformation campaign in the United States."
Farkas has been calling for an independent investigation into the alleged ties between Russia and the President's team for some time. In an interview in February of this year, Farkas suggested "the White House is clearly trying to hide something, or the president would have said, on day one, that he would support the investigations that began under his predecessor."
On Twitter, Farkas has been tough on House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., former Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort, and she also appears to support efforts by Senate Democrats to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch. "Bring back filibuster 4 democracy," Farkas wrote on March 23, the day Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged the rest of his colleagues to vote no on the nomination.