House Intelligence Committee's Russia Hearing

20 March, 2017, 22:48 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • FBI chief expected to deny wiretapping claim Dem says

FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers both appeared before the House Intelligence Committee hearing in which Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asked Comey whether he would corroborate former national intelligence director James Clapper's statement that there is no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russian Federation, consistent with the FBI's longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. "It's nearly as if they didn't care that we knew what they were doing", the Federal Bureau of Investigation director said. He confirmed the FBI investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and said release of Trump's tax returns might be helpful in showing those links. With gritted teeth, he said that would violate the agreement between the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence agencies - the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand - not to spy on each other's citizens.

At the outset of a pivotal week in Washington, FBI Director James Comey delivered a political gut-punch to President Donald Trump Monday - and the news possibly could get worse for the president in the days and weeks ahead.

"I assume the comment is created to the leaking of such information", Rogers said. Comey and Rogers deflected many questions about specific parts of the probe or surveillance activities, saying they could not publicly discuss sensitive information. Gowdy asked. He was referring specifically to leaked information regarding a phone call between Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, and the ambassador to Russian Federation during the transition.

Trump recently made news on social media for accusing former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign.

The panel's chairman, Republican Representative Devin Nunes, played a leading role in Trump's transition, which prompted some critics to question whether he was too close to the Republican president to conduct a fair investigation. However, he expressed concerns about "possible other surveillance methods" of Trump associates and the leaking of potentially classified information.

Under questioning from the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, he also publicly contradicted a series of tweets from Trump that declared the Republican candidate's phones had been ordered tapped by President Barack Obama during the campaign.

US intelligence agencies concluded that Russian Federation meddled in the campaign to help Trump defeat Clinton.

"But it is also possible, maybe more than possible" that it isn't a coincidence, Schiff said.

"I can't say because I don't want to confirm whether that was classified information", Comey responded.

Late last July, Comey said, the agency began investigating contacts between Trump's associates and the Russian government, which is believed to have stolen Democratic party emails and leaked them through intermediaries Wikileaks and Guccifer.

The Democrats tried to build a prosecution case out of the multiple contacts between Trump aides and Russian officials and the failure of the Trump campaign or the Trump White House to disclose them until forced to.

However, Schiff told "Meet the Press" he saw "circumstantial evidence of collusion" and direct evidence of "deception". The Obama administration brought those sanctions in response to the alleged meddling.

He has, however, signed letters seeking related information, and he was among the first lawmakers to call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from Russia-related investigations because of his contacts with Kislyak.

Nunes also said Monday that there is "no evidence to date that officials from any campaign conspired with Russian agents".

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