Will the Senate Push John Brennan to Resign From the CIA?

Calls for Brennan’s head began Thursday evening after the spy agency admitted it had hacked into Senate computers.

National Journal
Dustin Volz Clara Ritger
See more stories about...
Dustin Volz Clara Ritger
July 31, 2014, 1:28 p.m.

Demo­crat­ic Sens. Mark Ud­all and Mar­tin Hein­rich both called for CIA Dir­ect­or John Bren­nan’s resig­na­tion late Thursday after the spy agency ad­mit­ted it had im­prop­erly ac­cessed Sen­ate staffers’ com­puters used dur­ing a re­view of the agency’s Bush-era in­ter­rog­a­tion prac­tices.

“After be­ing briefed on the CIA in­spect­or gen­er­al re­port today, I have no choice but to call for the resig­na­tion of CIA Dir­ect­or John Bren­nan,” Ud­all said in a state­ment. “The CIA un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally spied on Con­gress by hack­ing in­to Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee com­puters.”

Ad­di­tion­al re­ports claimed that Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham was also ask­ing Bren­nan to step down due to the con­tro­versy. An aide Thursday denied know­ing of any call for resig­na­tion, though the South Car­o­lina Re­pub­lic­an said in March that “heads should roll, and people should go to jail” if the al­leg­a­tions of CIA hack­ing proved true.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id stopped short of call­ing for Bren­nan’s head, but said the CIA’s ad­mis­sion was “ap­palling and deeply threat­en­ing to our sys­tem of checks and bal­ances.”

“The CIA’s lead­er­ship must take ac­tion to ad­dress these mis­deeds, re­store its trust with Con­gress and en­sure that this epis­ode will nev­er, ever be re­peated,” Re­id ad­ded.

Oth­er sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein, have re­fused com­ment on wheth­er they be­lieve Bren­nan should be re­moved from his post. Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss, the In­tel­li­gence pan­el’s top Re­pub­lic­an, said calls for a resig­na­tion were “pre­ma­ture.”

“There are still a lot of un­dis­closed facts out there,” Cham­b­liss said.

Sen. Susan Collins said she had “been shown no evid­ence that [Bren­nan] dir­ec­ted, au­thor­ized, or ap­proved of the in­tru­sions them­selves, which I con­sider to be a very ser­i­ous in­fringe­ment on Con­gres­sion­al over­sight.”

Earli­er Thursday, the CIA ad­mit­ted that its em­ploy­ees had “ac­ted in a man­ner in­con­sist­ent with the com­mon un­der­stand­ing” agreed to between the agency and its Sen­ate over­seers, ac­cord­ing to CIA spokes­man Dean Boyd. The mea culpa marked a sharp re­versal of pre­vi­ous deni­als by Bren­nan, who said al­leg­a­tions of hack­ing of Sen­ate com­puters was “bey­ond the scope of reas­on.”

Fein­stein earli­er this year took to the Sen­ate floor to de­liv­er bomb­shell al­leg­a­tions that the CIA had secretly ac­cessed her pan­el’s com­puters that were be­ing used to re­view doc­u­ments re­lated to the gov­ern­ment’s tor­ture, de­ten­tion, and rendi­tion policies al­lowed dur­ing George W. Bush’s pres­id­ency. She ac­cused the CIA of im­ped­ing her staffers’ in­vest­ig­a­tion and charged the agency with pos­sibly vi­ol­at­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Ud­all, who serves on the In­tel­li­gence pan­el, was the first sen­at­or to state pub­licly that Bren­nan should give up his po­s­i­tion. The Col­or­ado Demo­crat is fa­cing reelec­tion this year in a tight race that The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port has deemed a Toss-Up.

On Fri­day, the New York Times ed­it­or­i­al board said the CIA had breached the trust of not only Con­gress but the Amer­ic­an pub­lic and called for per­son­nel changes.

“One of those heads may need to be Mr. Bren­nan’s,” the board wrote. “If he knew about the break-in, then he blatantly lied. If he did not, then ap­par­ently he was un­aware of the law­less cul­ture that has festered with­in the C.I.A. since the mo­ment it was en­cour­aged by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to tor­ture sus­pects and then lie about it.”

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
23 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×