Priebus: WH Will Look Into Evelyn Farkas Story; Almost Too Incredible To Be True

One of the subjects touched on is the story of Evelyn Farkas, formerly the Defense Department's top Russia expert under President Obama who is now calling for an independent investigation of the president's ties to Moscow.

This week, conservative media has noticed an interview she did on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on March 2nd, 2017 where Farkas appears to happily admit that she was repsonsible for leaking sensitive information about what parts of the government might have spied on President-elect Trump and his Trump Tower. Fox News ran a story on this titled: Former Obama official discloses rush to get intelligence on Trump team

The Farkas statement in question: "I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy ... that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their ... the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence."

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus responded Thursday morning: "That’s incredible."

"It certainly is an incredible comment, although I don’t want to add too much into it right now until I have an opportunity to sort of dig into it and figure out the scope of such a statement... It’s just an incredible statement, you know, and how, what it means and what she meant by that, and whether that has anything to do with the issues in regard to surveillance of Trump transition team members is something that we need to figure out this morning and throughout the day."

"I hope that the intelligence committees and agencies are interested," he also said.

Radio hosts Sean Hannity...

"That's why you have the leaking!" Farkas says in the clip.

"A personal reaction is it’s, it’s almost, it’s so cavalier and unbelievable that I just wonder whether this person knows what the heck she’s talking about. I mean, you know what I’m saying?" Priebus added.

Transcript of the Priebus interview, courtesy of the Hugh Hewitt Show:

HUGH HEWITT: A news story came up last night, Mr. Priebus. Evelyn Farkas, former assistant deputy secretary of Defense a few days ago was on with Morning Joe, and talking to Mika about the end game during the Obama years. She said this, the 30 second clip:

EVELYN FARKAS: …that the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues, and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.

HH: So Mr. Priebus, I put two clips together.

REINCE PRIEBUS, TRUMP ADMIN: That’s incredible.

HH: React to that for me, would you?

RP: Well, I mean, I heard it late last night, so I mean I honestly, I talked to Sean a little bit about it late last night, Spicer, and then we’re going to be meeting on it this morning. It’s just an incredible statement, you know, and how, what it means and what she meant by that, and whether that has anything to do with the issues in regard to surveillance of Trump transition team members is something that we need to figure out this morning and throughout the day. But it certainly is an incredible comment, although I don’t want to add too much into it right now until I have an opportunity to sort of dig into it and figure out the scope of such a statement.

HH: Now I want to ask you about a personal reaction to it, though. It suggests that incidental collection of American conversation in intelligence, perhaps even in Russian to Russian conversation, was pushed out by Team Obama for the purposes of cornering you guys? I don’t know what, but…

RP: Yeah, I mean, a personal reaction is it’s, it’s almost, it’s so cavalier and unbelievable that I just wonder whether this person knows what the heck she’s talking about. I mean, you know what I’m saying?

HH: Yeah.

RP: It’s sort of like one of these things it’s so much in your face that it makes you wonder what she means.

HH: Now do you think Director Comey will be interested in that statement?

RP: (laughing) Well, I hope that the intelligence committees and agencies are interested in all of these things. And the one thing I will tell you is that we want, we want this thing done thoroughly, and I will tell you that because we have got nothing to hide. I mean, there’s just nothing there. I’ve said it many times on television and elsewhere. There is no collusion. The issues in regard to contacts with Russia as outlined in the New York Times article about a month ago is total garbage, and we just, we would rather this move forward and be thorough and get on with it, because we’ve got nothing to hide. It’s ridiculous.

HH: Okay, to a substantive question.

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Former Obama official discloses rush to get intelligence on Trump team

A former top Obama administration official has acknowledged efforts by her colleagues to gather intelligence on Trump team ties to Russia before Donald Trump took office and to conceal the sources of that intelligence from the incoming administration.

Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Obama, made the disclosure March 2 while on the air with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.

“I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration,” Farkas, who is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said.

“Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy ... that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their ... the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.”

The comments come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill clash over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' claim last week that surveillance operations incidentally collected Trump team communications during the transition. Critics have accused Nunes of carrying water for Trump and called on him to recuse himself from Russia matters, but Nunes and his congressional allies have pushed back.

Aside from questions over whether communications were improperly gathered during the transition and before, there is speculation over how widely such information was disseminated. Farkas described a rush to spread the material before Trump took office.

"So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia," she said. "So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill."

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