FBI's Comey offers first public confirmation of Trump-Russia inquiry

Roger Stone

Roger Stone

Law enforcement officials have found no evidence supporting President Donald Trump's assertions that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, FBI Director James Comey said Monday.

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.

A political bombshell landed Monday in Washington as law enforcement confirmed an ongoing investigation into contacts between associates of Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government a year ago, including whether crimes were committed.

"There is a fine line between people who want to be part of something that they never had an official role in and people who actually played a role in either the campaign or the transition", he said.

Last week, during a visit to the Oval Office by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Trump had joked that "at least we have something in common" - a reference to Edward Snowden's intelligence leaks in 2013, which revealed U.S. eavesdropping on the German leader's phone in 2010.

In his opening statement at the hearing, Republican Representative Devin Nunes issued a similar comment made by Comey, although he said other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

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

U.S. 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 they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt USA persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. Yes, it is possible", said Schiff.

The White House went so far last week as to suggest Britain's GCHQ signals intelligence agency cooperated with Obama in the alleged surveillance.

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What about Mr Trump's claims against Mr Obama?

Sen. Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania Democrat, posted that this tweet from Trump proved that "every attempt from @POTUS to distract from legitimate Russian Federation [questions] makes the need for independent commission/special counsel all the more clear".

Observers say both allegations have diverted attention from the Trump administration's other policies and progress with political appointments.

Monday's hearing before the House Intelligence Committee is one of several congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling.

Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration had "wire-tapped" his Trump Tower headquarters has been thoroughly and publicly debunked by Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

"We do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of USA citizens including people associated with the Trump campaign", Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in his opening statement, running through the litany of Trump allies who had some form of contact with Russian officials, from now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to campaign aides J.D. Gordon and Carter Page to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone.

The 2016 presidential campaign won't be the last time Russians interfere with an election, Comey warned.

Two: Comey's testimony could lead to additional hearings. Comey was harshly criticized by Republicans for the public announcement in July that he was not recommending criminal charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of State.

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