On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee hosted Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap for testimony related to the Russia investigation.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been spearheading a large portion of the Congressional side of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and, concurrently, into possible Trump team collusion in those meddling efforts.
During this Wednesday hearing, Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich asked Priestap whether or not Donald Trump could be said to have acted as a Russian agent at any point in the months to years that mark his rise to power.
Priestap declined to answer Sen. Heinrich’s question, but, to laughter from those in the room, the Senator said that he could understand the official wanting to not comment.
The last time that a senior FBI official dared to oppose the president, he got fired. This FBI official is, of course, former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired after refusing to go along with the president’s wishes.
Senator Heinrich led off his questioning on the matter innocuously, asking the FBI official to define the term “unwitting agent.”
‘In an intelligence context it would be where an intelligence service is trying to advance certain aims and reach out to a variety of people, some of which they might try to convince to do certain things that the people they contact might actually carry those out, but for different reasons than the intelligence service had actually wanted them to carry them out.’
Sen Heinrich followed up Priestap’s explanation by asking:
‘By effectively reinforcing the Russian narrative and publicly saying that our system is rigged, did then-candidate Trump — now President Trump — become what intelligence officials would call an unwitting agent?’
As mentioned, Priestap declined to answer, instead simply putting his hands up and saying, “I can’t really comment on that.”
No matter if Priestap will admit it or not, it’s telling enough that his reply was to decline to answer rather than affirmatively state that no, Donald Trump did not act as an unwitting Russian agent — otherwise known, more colloquially, as a useful idiot — at any point in recent memory.
Watch video of Sen. Heinrich and Priestap’s exchange below.
FBI Official Bill Priestap declined to answer a question from Sen. Heinrich on whether Trump had become an “unwitting agent” of Russia. pic.twitter.com/AmfOL4eUIc
— Lauren Werner (@LaurenWern) June 23, 2017
Featured Image via Screenshot from the Video.