No ev­i­dence of wire­tap­ping

In­tel sug­gests cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that Amer­i­can cit­i­zens col­luded with Rus­sians to in­ter­fere in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - WORLD NEWS - MICHELE SAL­CEDO

WASH­ING­TON — The top two law­mak­ers on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee said Sun­day that doc­u­ments the Jus­tice De­part­ment and FBI de­liv­ered late last week of­fered no ev­i­dence that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had wire­tapped Trump Tower, but the panel’s rank­ing Demo­crat says the ma­te­rial of­fers cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that Amer­i­can cit­i­zens col­luded with Rus­sians in Moscow’s ef­forts to in­ter­fere in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“There was cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion; there is direct ev­i­dence, I think, of de­cep­tion,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said. “There’s cer­tainly enough for us to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee is to be­gin hear­ings Mon­day into Rus­sia’s role in cy­ber­se­cu­rity breaches at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, as well as Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s un­sub­stan­ti­ated claim that his pre­de­ces­sor had au­tho­rized a wire­tap of Trump Tower. FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey and Mike Rogers, the di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, are slated to tes­tify.

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have said that Rus­sia was be­hind the theft of Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee e-mails last sum­mer. The U.S. gov­ern­ment later con­cluded that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment di­rected the DNC hack in an at­tempt to in­flu­ence the out­come of Novem­ber’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“For the first time the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties now, are pay­ing at­ten­tion to the threat that Rus­sia poses,” com­mit­tee Chair­man Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said. “We know that the Rus­sians were try­ing to get in­volved in our cam­paign, like they have for many decades. They’re also try­ing to get in­volved in cam­paigns around the globe and over in Europe.”

Nunes said the com­mit­tee will also ex­am­ine whether the Rus­sians were try­ing to sow doubt in the U.S. elec­toral sys­tem or whether they were try­ing to help Trump get elected to the White House.

“We need to get to the bot­tom of that,” Nunes said.

Nunes and Schiff were among a num­ber of law­mak­ers who said on Sun­day’s news shows they had seen no ev­i­dence that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion or­dered wire­taps on Trump dur­ing the cam­paign.

“Was there a phys­i­cal wire­tap of Trump Tower? No there never was,” Nunes said. “The in­for­ma­tion we re­ceived Fri­day con­tin­ues to lead us in that di­rec­tion.”

Nunes added: “There was no FISA war­rant I am aware of to tap Trump Tower.” FISA stands for the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act, which re­quires in­ves­ti­ga­tors to seek a war­rant from a se­cret court to wire­tap a for­eign sus­pect.

Repub­li­can Sens. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and Su­san Collins of Maine also said Sun­day they had seen no ev­i­dence that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had placed Trump un­der sur­veil­lance at Trump Tower, the Man­hat­tan high-rise that houses Trump’s res­i­dence, busi­ness of­fice and cam­paign of­fice. Collins en­cour­aged Trump to turn what­ever ev­i­dence he has of the sur­veil­lance over to the con­gres­sional in­tel­li­gence pan­els look­ing into the mat­ter.

The pres­i­dent re­peat­edly in­sisted last week that former Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had Trump Tower put un­der sur­veil­lance late last fall. Trump’s claims widened to two of the U.S.’s staunch­est al­lies. He re­peated an un­sub­stan­ti­ated claim that Bri­tain’s cy­ber in­tel­li­gence or­ga­ni­za­tion con­ducted the sur­veil­lance at Obama’s be­hest, a claim the agency GBHQ flatly de­nied; and men­tioned dur­ing Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s first visit to the Trump White House the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s mon­i­tor­ing of Merkel’s cell­phone, a bruis­ing in­ci­dent in Ger­man-U.S. re­la­tions.

“What the pres­i­dent said was just patently false,” Schiff said of the Trump Tower al­le­ga­tions, “and the wreck­ing ball it cre­ated has now banged into our Bri­tish al­lies and our Ger­man al­lies and con­tin­u­ing to grow in terms of dam­age. And he needs to put an end to this.”

Nunes spoke on Fox News Sun­day; Schiff and Collins ap­peared on NBC’s Meet the Press; Cot­ton was on CNN’s State of the Union.

CLIFF OWEN/AP FILES

House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Rank­ing Mem­ber Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks with re­porters about the com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment in the re­cent U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.