December 19, 2016 09:46 PM EST
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WATCH | Circa’s Sara Carter goes one-on-one with John Brennan.
Brennan: Russia was involved
CIA Director John Brennan told Circa the intelligence community is in agreement with the assessment that Russia played a role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and he added that Congress will be briefed on its probe in January.
The investigation will look at “what happened prior to and during the election and Russia’s involvement,” he said. Brennan spoke candidly on several hot-button topics, including Syria, Iran, and the Philippines.
‘All on the same sheet music’
“One of the misperceptions out there is that there is a disagreement between different elements of the intelligence community,” Brennan said. “I think we all are on the same sheet of music as far as our analysis, our assessment and our intelligence.”
The FBI and the DNI backed the CIA assessment earlier this week, after stories surfaced that the intelligence community was not in agreement with the CIA’s findings that Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC. But not everyone is satisfied.
Rep. King wants Brennan investigated
On Sunday, Rep. Peter King, who had accused the CIA of carrying out a “disinformation campaign” against Donald Trump, told ABC News there should be an investigation into Brennan for the “hit job he seems to be orchestrating against the President-elect.”
The CIA declined to comment on King’s statements.
Did Russia help Trump?
According to U.S. officials that spoke with Circa, the assessment revealed that Russia intervened in the 2016 election, in part to help President-elect Donald Trump.
Brennan did not go into details, but said “President Obama has asked the [Director of National Intelligence] to lead an effort to produce a comprehensive review of what happened prior to and during the election, and Russia’s involvement.”
Brennan also touched on Russia’s role in Syria. “It’s nothing short of a pogrom that has been perpetrated on the Syrian people by Bashar-al-Assad with the assistance of Mr. Putin, as well as Hezbollah, and the Iranians,” he said.
The complexities of Syria
The massive loss of life weighs heavily on Brennan. “Syria, in my view, is the most complex issue that we have faced in my national security experience, because there’s so many internal players and external players.
“It is heartbreaking what is happening to a beautiful country and a beautiful people, in terms of the bloodshed, the violence, and the instability that has wracked that country.”
The ISIS and Al Qaeda threat
As for the spread of terror groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda to hot spots around the globe, Brennan said “there have been segments of societies within the East Asian, Southeast Asian countries, that have adhered to the extremist ideology and terrorist ideologies that are out there.”
Concerned with Duterte’s actions
Brennan also expressed concern regarding comments and actions taken by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Since Duterte’s election in June, he has threatened to break off relations with the United States, insulted President Obama on numerous occasions, and threatened to expel U.S. counterterrorism troops stationed in his country.
Reports have also surfaced of human rights abuses, and the use of so-called government “death squads” against people Duterte has accused of being criminals. Duterte boasted of killing suspected criminals personally when he was mayor of Davao City.
Presidents need to be ‘responsible and disciplined’
“I think some of the comments coming out of the Philippine president have been irresponsible in some respects, and dismissive of the importance” of U.S.-Philippines relations. “I do think when people have these positions of being president, they have to be very responsible and disciplined, and the words they choose, the messages they send because it carries the force of their administrations and their governments.”
Brennan confident Trump will recognize the importance of intel
As for the incoming Trump administration, Brennan says he’s “hopeful and confident in many respects that the new team will recognize, hopefully very early on, that intelligence is not just a nice thing to have, it is a need to have.”
“I do believe that if this country is going to stay safe and strong in the future, the CIA’s role needs to be understood, appreciated, and leveraged for the good of this country.”