Tue. Nov 19th, 2019

The Informer

Place where all voices matter

A Packed Day of Congressional Testimony, With Russia at the Fore

3 min read

■ The House committee that is investigating Russian interference in the presidential election will hear at 10 a.m. from John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., who was so troubled by Russia’s activities last summer that he arranged briefings with top lawmakers.

■ A new report says that President Trump asked two intelligence officials to deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. Both of those officials are testifying before lawmakers on Tuesday.

Opening a hearing Tuesday morning with Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, did not mention the Washington Post report that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Coats and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, to deny allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in meddling in the election.

But he did note there is urgency to the Trump administration finding its national security footing.

“This is still a young administration,” Mr. McCain said. “Cogent, coherent policy and strategy take time to develop, but we should be ever mindful that our adversaries are not waiting for us to get our act together. Time is of the essence.”

After a near-daily barrage of new details in the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, members of Congress will have several opportunities on Tuesday to question key intelligence officials.

The headliner will be Mr. Brennan, whose public appearance before the House Intelligence Committee will be his first congressional hearing since Mr. Trump took office.

Mr. Brennan became so concerned last summer about signs of Russian election meddling that he held urgent, classified briefings for eight senior members of Congress, speaking with some of them over secure phone lines while they were away on recess. In those conversations, he told lawmakers there was evidence that Russia was specifically working to elect Mr. Trump as president.

Mr. Brennan was also one of a handful of officials who briefed both President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump in January on a broad intelligence community report revealing that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered an “influence campaign” targeting the presidential election.

The House open hearing begins at 10 a.m., followed by a closed-door session.

Admiral Rogers will also be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. His visit has nothing to do with the Russia investigation: He will appear before the House Armed Services Committee to make the case for the United States Cyber Command’s annual budget request. In short, Admiral Rogers, like many agency heads this week, will be there to ask lawmakers for money.

But do not expect that to stop committee members from asking him about the Washington Post report that Mr. Trump asked Admiral Rogers and Mr. Coats to push back against allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russian officials.

House Democrats like Jackie Speier of California, who serves on both the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, are unlikely to let the chance pass to question Admiral Rogers about the news of the day (or minute).

The hearing begins at 3:30 p.m.

Speaking of Mr. Coats: He will make his own timely appearance on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where he will discuss “worldwide threats” alongside Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Another recent congressional hearing on such threats focused heavily on Russian interference in the election, and Mr. Coats, like Admiral Rogers, is surely preparing for questions in light of The Post’s report.

Mr. Coats is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m.