FBI Director Delivers Stinging Rebuke of Trump's Wiretap Claims

Rep. Adam Schiff, the most high-ranking Democratic official on the House Intelligence Committee, reportedly expected Comey to agree with him that Trump's claims were "patently false".

Although Trump, as recently as Friday, has continued to defend the extraordinary allegations that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower in advance of the 2016 elections, House and Senate leaders briefed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation director in recent days have flatly denied such surveillance existed in bipartisan joint statements, leaving the White House virtually alone in asserting such claims.

But Schiff said there was "circumstantial evidence of collusion" at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as "direct evidence" that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.

"With respect to the president's tweets, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI", Comey said.

Comey told Congress that the FBI launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the USA elections almost nine months ago.

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, said it was not yet known whether the Russian operation was aided by USA citizens, "including people associated with the Trump campaign".

Comey told a congressional hearing on Russian activities that the probe "includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts".

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Comey was responding to Trump's tweets from March 4th, in which he claimed that Obama "wiretapped" Trump Tower ahead of the November election and called Obama a "sick" guy.

Mr Comey was appearing alongside the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, in a congressional investigation into the extent and objective of Russian intervention in the 2016 election.

Trump's explosive claims of wiretapping caused an global row last week when press secretary Sean Spicer read from unverified reports that said a British intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, conspired with Obama to wiretap Trump.

U.S. Rep Devin Nunes asked Rogers if there was any evidence that Russian Federation interfered with vote tallies in several states. Current and former United States officials have also told several media outlets that they have intercepted communications between associates of Trump and Russian officials. Comey testified on a variety of subjects including the investigation into former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server.

Trump doubled down on Monday morning, appearing to set the tone for the hearing, tweeting that "James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russian Federation. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!"

The committee is investigating, among other things, Russian hacking that intelligence officials have said was meant to influence the election.

It is the bureau's policy never to discuss an ongoing investigation - but Democrats say the FBI flagrantly ignored that policy past year with Comey's disclosures regarding the Clinton investigation. "And it has to be thoughtful, because we are feeding into this covert-action narrative that the Russians are trying to create". "Much higher ratings at Fox", Trump said.

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