John Brennan was interviewed Friday by U.S. Attorney John Durham as part of the review of any misconduct related to the origins of the Russia probe, but the former CIA director was assured he’s not a target in the investigation, a Brennan spokesman said.
“Earlier today Brennan was informed by Mr. Durham that he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation and that he is only a witness to events that are under review,” said Nick Shapiro, a Brennan spokesman. “The interview was conducted at CIA headquarters and lasted eight hours.”
Attorney General William Barr last year appointed Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to examine the decisions that were made by government officials as they investigated ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Barr has challenged the idea that the FBI had sufficient basis to open its counterintelligence investigation and gave Durham a mandate that allows him to look into the actions of other agencies too.
Brennan, now a vocal critic of President Trump, led the CIA under the Obama administration as it and other intelligence agencies arrived at the conclusion that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump.
Republicans have suggested Brennan acted improperly. In May, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued Brennan has “the most to answer” of any Obama administration official when it comes to the origins of the Russia investigation.
McEnany said that of all the “bad actors” of the Obama White House, Brennan “has the most to answer” for because he testified before Congress that the so-called Christopher Steele dossier, “paid for by Hillary Clinton, paid for by the DNC,” had no part in the opening of the Russia investigation.
“In fact, we know it did, in fact we know it was the impetus and testified before a FISA court for its truthfulness to spy on the Trump campaign,” the press secretary continued. “So too does Samantha Power and Susan Rice and these individuals who admitted under oath that they spoke to foreign leaders and representatives of foreign leaders during their transition, yet somehow during the Trump transition that was uncalled for.”
According to Shapiro, “Brennan welcomed the opportunity to answer Mr. Durham's questions related to a wide range of intelligence-related activities undertaken by CIA before the November 2016 presidential election as well as the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) published in early January 2017. Brennan provided details on the efforts made by the Intelligence Community to understand and disrupt the actions taken by Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
While the statement said Brennan “expressed appreciation for the professional manner in which Mr. Durham and his team conducted the interview,” it also lashed out at the Trump administration.
“Brennan also told Mr. Durham that the repeated efforts of Donald Trump and William Barr to politicize Mr. Durham's work have been appalling and have tarnished the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice, making it very difficult for Department of Justice professionals to carry out their responsibilities. It is Brennan's fervent hope that the results of the Durham review will be apolitical and not influenced by personal or partisan agendas,”
Durham brought his first criminal charge last week against a former FBI lawyer accused of altering an email related to the secret surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a false statement charge.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.