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Trey Gowdy has tense exchange with former CIA director on Trump/Russia collusion

Rep. Trey Gowdy has a tense interaction Tuesday with former CIA Director John Brennan over hard evidence of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia. (Getty Images)

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy pressed former CIA Director John Brennan during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday on whether there is hard evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia.

Democrats have repeatedly claimed there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election. However, the president's accusers have yet to produce hard evidence of such collusion.

An unclassified report from the U.S. intelligence community revealed in January that Russia regularly attempts to involve itself clandestinely in U.S. elections, including the one in 2016.

Gowdy grilled Brennan on whether or not there was hard evidence of a connection between Trump and Russia, despite there being proof that Russia was indeed interfering with our elections.

"When you learned of Russian efforts, did you have evidence of a connection between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors?" Gowdy asked.

"As I said, Mr. Gowdy, I don't do evidence," Brennan responded, "and we were uncovering information intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau."

Gowdy did not find this answer acceptable and tensely explained to Brennan that evidence is what truly mattered to him and his colleagues, including committee members in the Democratic Party:

I appreciate that you don't do evidence, Director Brennan. Unfortunately, that's what I do. That's the word we use, you use the word assessment, you use the word tradecraft. I use the word evidence.

And the good news for me is lots of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle use the word evidence, too. One of my colleagues said there is more than circumstantial evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

After pointing out that the word "evidence" is one his fellow citizens understand, Gowdy pressed the former director again about proof of Trump's collusion with Russia.

"We're not getting into whether or not you corroborated, contradicted, examined, cross-examined. We're not getting into how you tested and probed the reliability of that evidence; it's a really simple question," Gowdy said. "Did evidence exist of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors at the time you learned of 2016 efforts?"

Brennan responded that he did not know if there was any evidence, only intelligence that suggested Russian entities attempted to sway individuals within the Trump campaign, and that he felt this intelligence warranted an investigation.

"I don't know whether or not such collusion — and that's your term — such collusion existed. I don't know," Brennan said. "But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials."

While there is so far no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it has not stopped Democratic politicians such as Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) from pushing the idea that a connection exists. However, Waters was recently forced to admit even she sees no hard evidence of Russian collusion with Trump during a recent segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

A video has recently been released of several Democrats admitting there is currently no evidence of a Russian and Trump connection, featuring former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

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