Former CIA chief says Trump knows Russia helped him so he gives them a pass

<p>John Brennan, former CIA director, on CNN</p> (CNN Out Front)

John Brennan, former CIA director, on CNN

(CNN Out Front)

Donald Trump cannot denounce Russia’s alleged cyber attack on US government agencies because “he realises that Russia has helped him” in the past, a former CIA director has claimed.

John Brennan, who was head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2013 and 2017, said on Monday that the US president’s comments on Russia were against “reality,” and always have been.

And that, said Mr Brennan, was because the country had helped his one-time election win.

“He refuses to accept reality. I think it’s because he doesn’t see Russia as a threat to him personally,” said Mr Brennan, as he appeared on CNN’s Out Front.

“In fact, I think he realises that Russia has helped him prior to the 2016 election and even afterward, which is why he’s given them a pass”.

Mr Brennan, whose initial investigations into Mr Trump’s connections with Russia went on to become the Russia investigation led by Robert Mueller and then impeachment against the president, added that Mr Trump had always pushed back against claims Russia was aggressive towards the US.

He had said on Saturday that the cyber attack against US government agencies - reported last week - was “well under control” and that “the lamestream media” wanted to blame “Russia, Russia, Russia”

“[It] is the priority chant when anything happens because [US media] is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!),” the president added on Twitter, in comments that China condemned.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said last week that Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the months-long security breach, which compromised sensitive information at several government departments since July.

On Monday, outgoing US attorney general Bill Barr said he agreed with Mr Pompeo’s assessment, and that it "certainly appears" to have been Russia, in another blow to Mr Trump’s claims.

The president reportedly blocked a White House statement on the matter on Friday, with officials told to stand down.

The statement would have blamed Russia as being behind the cyber attack, while leaving open possibility that others were also involved.

Mr Barr also ruled-out appointing special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden, the president-elect’s son, and one on Mr Trump's claims the election was rigged, which have been without basis, on Monday.

The attorney general will step down on Wednesday, with Mr Trump due to leave office next month.

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