Trump feels heat as FBI re­veals in­quiry into Krem­lin links

Daily Mail - - News - From Tom Leonard in New York

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

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