Comey confirms FBI probe into Trump-Russia collusion
The director of the FBI also says there's 'no information' to support Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
By Austin Wright and Martin Matishak
03/20/17 09:21 AM EDT
FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
He also shot down President Donald Trump's explosive claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the run-up to the presidential election.
Comey told the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing that the bureau normally does not comment on the existence of counterintelligence investigations, but that he was authorized by the Justice Department to do so in this case because of the extraordinary public interest.
“This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed,” Comey told the intelligence panel. He said he could not give a timeline or comment further on the matter, but pledged to "follow the facts wherever they lead."
Comey also said he had "no information" to support Trump's claim, made on Twitter, about Trump Tower being wiretapped by his predecessor.
“I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said. He added that the Justice Department had also looked for evidence to support the president’s allegation and could not find any.
Comey noted that "some folks may want to make comparison to past instances where the Department of Justice and the FBI have spoken about the details of some investigations,” an apparent reference to his decision to speak publicly before the election about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. He said the difference was that “those involved the details of completed investigations.”
Minutes before Comey's highly anticipated testimony , the House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) scolded Donald Trump on the president's platform of choice: Twitter.
“Mr. President, the Russians hacked our election and interfered. No one disputes this now, but you. This is what is called 'fact,'” Schiff wrote in a series of tweets denouncing Trump's claim that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower. “The intelligence community concluded the Russians will interfere again. This is why full investigation is important to country. Please stop.”
Schiff followed with more tweets directed at the president, saying there’s no evidence former President Barack Obama or the British government surveilled him.
“Your suggestion British wiretapped you & jape with Merkel are harming our relationships with key allies. This is called ‘collateral damage,’” Schiff tweeted, a reference to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s claim last week that the U.K.’s intelligence apparatus might have spied on Trump. The White House has since promised to the U.K. that it wouldn’t repeat those allegations.
Schiff’s messages were in response to a series of early morning tweets from the president on Monday morning. Hours before FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before Congress on Russia’s interference into the 2016 election, Trump tweeted that there’s no evidence that he colluded with Russia and that any claims that he did are “fake news.” He blamed the Democrats for fabricating the story because “running a terrible campaign.”
At the start of the hearing, Schiff delivered a lengthy speech running through the public evidence of links between Trump associates and Moscow. He leaned heavily on an unsubstantiated "dossier" compiled by a former British intelligence agent.
“If the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history,” Schiff said in his opening remarks.