(CNN, March 20,2017): FBI Director James Comey said for the first time Monday that the bureau is investigating whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow while Russia was interfering in the presidential election.
FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found
Comey also delivered an implicit rebuke to President Donald Trump, saying that he had “no information” to support claims by the President that he was wiretapped on the orders of predecessor Barack Obama.
In a dramatic hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey, once again finding himself at the epicenter of a political storm, also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a clear preference for whom he wanted to see as the next president — and it was not Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Comey’s comments represented his most explicit intervention yet in the controversy over what US intelligence agencies have assessed was a Russian attempt to disrupt the election — and a string of counter-claims against the previous administration leveled by Trump himself.
Comey on Monday publicly confirmed for the first time that his agency is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and whether any crimes may have been committed during last year’s election campaign as part of a wider probe into the hacking of Democratic servers and the Clinton campaign.
“That 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,” Comey said in his opening statement to the committee.
The hearing, which also featured testimony from National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers saw Democrats highlight publicly available information about links between Trump associates and Russia. Republicans tried to turn the hearing into leaks that led to the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey testified that US intelligence agencies were agreed that Russia’s aim evolved into an effort during the election to aid Trump over Clinton.
“They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in at least as early as December,” Comey said.