Former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pushed back against President Donald Trump's stance on Russian interference in the 2016 election. "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it".
"And our president fosters that ambiguity", he said. "He said he didn't meddle".
So did former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who appeared on "State of the Union" at Brennan's side.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year about President Barack Obama and his administration's behind-the-scenes efforts to combat the Russian interference efforts, which were well-known during the campaign.
Since leaving government, Clapper said more information had come out that raises at least "circumstantial questions" about potential connections between Trump's associates and Russian Federation.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump called former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper "political hacks" on Saturday for disagreeing with his friendly stance toward Russian Federation.
Brennan said Putin's apparent success with Trump was due to his use of flattery and Brennan's suspicion that Trump "for whatever reason" might be "intimidated" by Putin. "He said he didn't meddle, he said he didn't meddle". I asked him again. I just asked him again. "He did not do what they're saying he did".
"So, it's very worrisome", Brennan told CNN's Jake Tapper.
The intelligence community released an unclassified version of its assessment in January, saying Putin ordered the election meddling to hurt Hillary Clinton's candidacy and bolster Trump's successful bid. A special counsel and several congressional committees are investigating whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.
Brennan told Tapper that Trump "was referring to us as political hacks because he was trying to delegitimize the intelligence community's assessment". "I guess you could go back and say, well, we should have been more aggressive or done something earlier", Clapper said. "Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker".
Clapper piled on: "He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities".
"I found it particularly reprehensible that on Veterans Day Donald Trump would attack and impugn the integrity and the character of Jim Clapper, who served in uniform for 35 years", said the ex-CIA chief.
In a statement released shortly after Trump's comments, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he "stands by and has always stood by" the January 2017 intelligence report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an "influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election" in order to "undermine public faith in the USA democratic process".