Former CIA Director John Brennan appeared Tuesday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to testify on alleged collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
An appearance that was marked by a tense exchange with South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy.
How that exchange was interpreted depended on the difference one sees between “contact” and evidence of collusion — contact often being routine.
Brennan said he was “concerned” about interaction between Trump campaign people and Russia, but was emphatic that he did not know if there was collusion. He also got Gowdy going when he stated, “I don’t do evidence.”
Gowdy did not seem to appreciate Brennen’s word twisting, and fired off three Democrats that have been suing the world widely.
“And that’s the word that my fellow citizens understand, ‘evidence,'” Gowdy fired back. “‘Assessment’ is your vernacular.”
“You and I both know what the word evidence means,” Gowdy said, finally asking, “It’s a real simple question, did evidence exist of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors?
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan answered. “It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”
“I don’t know whether or not such collusion, that’s your term, existed,” he continued. “I don’t know.”
All of a sudden “collusion” is Gowdy’s term? Haven’t the Dems been pushing that narrative for months?
Some on social media were quick to look past Brennan’s clear admission that he does not know if there was collusion to suggest Gowdy asked a question “he wants back.”
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) May 23, 2017
Be that as it may, Gowdy continued to pressed Brennan on the issue.
“Did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russian state actors?” he asked.
“I saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to determine whether such cooperation and collusion was taking place,” Brennan said.
“That doesn’t help us a lot,” Gowdy replied. “What was the nature of the information?”
“It’s classified, and I’m happy to talk about it in the classified session,” Brennan said.
He would go on to again stress that he does not know if there was collusion.
“I don’t have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not there was cooperation or complicity or collusion,” Brennan said.
GOWDY: Did you see evidence of collusion?
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 23, 2017
The reaction on social media was immediate, with the response depending on the loyalty of the user.
Here’s a sampling of those responses from Twitter:
I think Brennan just gave Gowdy the exact answer Gowdy didn’t want.
— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) May 23, 2017
Wow. Gowdy just walked into it with former CIA Dir. Brennan. Asked about "collusion" and Brennan said there WAS intel worth investigating.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) May 23, 2017
Expecting laser beams to shoot from Brennan’s eyes and burn Gowdy into the ground. Holy shit, what a dumbass.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) May 23, 2017
Trey Gowdy cornered Slippery Brennan.Who backtracked on earlier answer. Brennan WAS at CIA on last day when unmasking of more ppl occurred.
— Media is Corrupt (@Trumpwatcher) May 23, 2017
I sure wish Trey Gowdy could be the new FBI Director. It would make liberals more insane than they already are! #Brennan
— Feisty☀️Floridian (@peddoc63) May 23, 2017
Gowdy making Brennan look like a conspiring fool, as usual.
— Steel123 (@Southpaw246) May 23, 2017
Gowdy keeps pushing, like Rooney, to get Brennan to say there is or isn’t ‘evidence’ of collusion w Russia. Brennan: “I don’t do evidence.”
— Imperius Rest (@attackerman) May 23, 2017
— Joseph Molesley (@TheRealJMole) May 23, 2017
All of a sudden it seemed the left wasn’t concerned with their favorite word “collusion” anymore and some suggested a “narrative shift” under way.
— The Muse (@The_Island815) May 23, 2017
@TweeterPotato He has given NO reason for this investigation. This is a witch hunt in search of a witch. And she’s hiding in the woods of NY.
— Plain Jane (@plainjane5555) May 23, 2017
To be continued…
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