Trump feels heat as FBI reveals inquiry into Kremlin links
FBI director James Comey confirmed yesterday that he was investigating whether the trump campaign criminally colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.
the FBI never usually comments on ongoing investigations, but Mr Comey said he had been authorised by the Justice Department to end weeks of speculation. An investigation that could result in criminal charges had been running since July, he said.
Mr Comey made his revelations, which plunged the White House into new embarrassment, at an intensely anticipated and dramatic appearance before the Congressional intelligence committee in Washington.
He also knocked down Mr trump’s insistence that Barack Obama had his phones tapped, while National security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers admitted that White House claims of GCHQ involvement ‘clearly frustrates a key ally’.
Mr Comey agreed with a suggestion that Russia wanted to encourage presidential candidates who were in favour of Brexit. Asked if the Russians would ‘like to see more Brexits’, he replied: ‘Yes.’
He revealed the FBI was not only looking into the extent of Russian attempts to help Mr trump in the 2016 election by hacking Democrat emails, but also whether members of the trump campaign collaborated with the Kremlin operation. the trump campaign rejects the allegations.
Mr Comey said that in unusual circumstances when it is in the public interest, the bureau will sometimes discuss current investigations.
‘this is one of those circumstances,’ he said. ‘the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election.
‘that includes the nature of any links of individuals associated with the trump campaign and Russia. this will also include whether any crimes were committed.’
Mr Comey’s refusal to be drawn on any details of the investigation, such as who was being investigated and the seriousness of the potential offences, leaves a cloud hanging over the White House.
Before the start of the hearing – which lasted six hours – Mr trump posted a series of tweets claiming the Democrats ‘made up’ the allegations of Russian contacts in an attempt to discredit the Republicans during the election.
Mr Comey also insisted that neither his bureau nor the Department of Justice had found any evidence to support the President’s claims of phonetapping. ‘I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully within the FBI,’ he said. Moments later, he added: ‘All I can tell you is that we have no information that supports them.’
Mr Comey twisted the knife by adding that the Justice Department had asked him to make clear that it had found no evidence either.
the White House had claimed Mr Obama had asked Britain’s spy agency to do the bugging in order to cover his tracks – an allegation angrily dismissed by GCHQ as ‘utterly ridiculous’.
Admiral Rogers, who runs the Us equivalent of GCHQ, said he agreed with the British agency’s angry response.
Asked whether the allegation was damaging to the Us-UK relationship, he said it ‘clearly frustrates a key ally of ours’.
White House press secretary sean spicer said the President wasn’t prepared to withdraw his allegations against Mr Obama as the investigation wasn’t over.
FBI probe: President Trump yesterday