Did senior Russian intelligence officials discuss influencing Donald Trump through his advisers?


House Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has declined to testify before or supply business documents to his panel and - as such - "we do have to explore a use of contempt".

Meanwhile, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page said he will testify next month before the House intelligence committee, and the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence services obtained information during the 2016 election that showed senior Russian officials discussing how to influence Mr Trump through his advisers.

Former CIA director John Brennan said on Tuesday that he warned Russia last summer against meddling in the USA presidential election but the Russians went ahead and did it, anyway.

Yesterday Flynn's lawyers said that the committee's subpoena was overly broad and that complying with them would "feed the escalating public frenzy against him". Others discussed leveraging their ties to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine living in exile in Russian Federation, who at one time had worked closely with Mr. Manafort. Among the possibilities, the senators acknowledged, was to hold Flynn in contempt of Congress, a criminal charge, if he continued down the path of refusing compliance.

Mr Brennan said he had warned Moscow against interfering in the USA presidential election, confirming that an FBI investigation had been opened in July.

"It was our preference initially to get these documents and testimony voluntarily", Schiff said.

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"I told Mr. Bortnikov that if Russian Federation had such a campaign underway, it would be certain to backfire", Brennan said.

Mr Brennan's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee gave a much clearer view of how seriously United States intelligence took the Russian threat, and why the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating it in July a year ago, well before the country was aware of the allegations. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said Tuesday that the panel also sent a letter to Flynn's lawyer questioning whether his client can indeed invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid turning over documents.

The committee issued a subpoena on May 10, requesting Flynn produce detailed information about any meetings he may have had with Russian officials as well as any communications the Trump campaign may have had "in any way related to Russia" during the election.

Coats also decried leaks relating to US intelligence, telling the committee, "Lives are at stake in many instances and leaks jeopardize those lives".

The committee has tried another way to receive the documents by issuing two subpoenas for two of Flynn's former businesses.

Trump didn't have a wall between his businesses and his campaign, and that decision could come back to haunt him as the Russian Federation investigation moves forward.