FBI con­firm in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia-Trump cam­paign ties

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - WORLD NEWS - EILEEN SUL­LI­VAN and ERIC TUCKER

WASH­ING­TON — FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey con­firmed Mon­day that the bureau is in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble links and co-or­di­na­tion be­tween Rus­sia and as­so­ciates of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as part of a broader probe of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in last year’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

The ex­tra­or­di­nary rev­e­la­tion, and the first pub­lic con­fir­ma­tion of the wider in­ves­ti­ga­tion that be­gan last sum­mer, came in a con­gres­sional hear­ing ex­am­in­ing Rus­sian med­dling and pos­si­ble con­nec­tions be­tween Moscow and Trump’s cam­paign.

In a bruis­ing five-hour ses­sion, the FBI di­rec­tor also re­jected the new pres­i­dent’s claim that his pre­de­ces­sor had wire­tapped his New York sky­scraper, and he cor­rected, in real time, the pres­i­dent’s Mon­day tweets about his tes­ti­mony.

Comey noted that the FBI does not or­di­nar­ily dis­cuss ongoing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, but he said he’d been au­tho­rized to do so given the ex­treme pub­lic in­ter­est in this case.

“This work is very com­plex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

The hear­ing, pro­vid­ing the most ex­ten­sive pub­lic ac­count­ing of a mat­ter that has dogged the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for its first two months, quickly broke along par­ti­san lines. Democrats pressed for de­tails on the sta­tus of the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while Repub­li­cans fo­cused on news coverage and pos­si­ble im­proper dis­clo­sures of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

Un­der ques­tion­ing from the com­mit­tee’s top Demo­crat, Rep. Adam Schiff, the FBI di­rec­tor pub­licly con­tra­dicted a se­ries of re­cent tweets from Trump that de­clared the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s phones had been or­dered tapped by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing the cam­paign.

“With re­spect to the pres­i­dent’s tweets about al­leged wire­tap­ping di­rected at him by the prior ad­min­is­tra­tion, I have no in­for­ma­tion that sup­ports those tweets, and we have looked care­fully inside the FBI,” Comey said. The same was true, he added, of the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

He also took is­sue with Trump tweets sent out dur­ing the hear­ing, in­clud­ing one that said, “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Rus­sia did not in­flu­ence elec­toral process.”

Comey was tes­ti­fy­ing along with Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Di­rec­tor Michael Rogers, who also dis­puted al­le­ga­tions that sur­faced last year that Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence ser­vices were in­volved in the wire­tap­ping.

The FBI di­rec­tor was the lat­est gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial to re­ject Trump’s claims, made with­out any ev­i­dence, that Obama had wire­tapped Trump Tower dur­ing the cam­paign. Rep. Devin Nunes, a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, also re­jected it ear­lier in the hear­ing.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey tes­ti­fies on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton D.C., Mon­day, be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee hear­ing on al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

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