On Monday, for 5-1/2 hours FBI Director James Comey testified before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He confirmed for the first time that the bureau is investigating possible ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.
Russian connection investigation:
Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, along with Comey stated that the investigation could last for months.
Comey also refuted Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
Comey confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not simply want Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to lose the election; he wanted Donald Trump to win.
In early March, Trump tweeted that Obama had wiretapped his campaign without giving evidence, which created a controversy.
Comey said: “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.”
Several committees in the U.S. Congress are investigating whether Russia tried to influence the election by hacking Democratic operatives’ emails and releasing embarrassing information, this is one of them. These allegations are denied by Russia.
Possible Russian efforts to interfere in the election are being investigated by the FBI since July, including possible cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, as per Comey’s confirmation. He added that intelligence agencies cannot confirm whether the efforts influenced the outcome.
No details of the classified investigation were given by Comey. He added that the fact that it exists does not mean charges would be filed
Comey said: “I think that was a fairly easy judgment for the (intelligence) community. Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”
Before the hearing, Trump tweeted: “The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign.”
Trump has repeatedly endorsed better relations with Russia, which has been at odds with the former administration over Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.
Top Democrat on the intelligence committee, Representative Adam Schiff, listed activities by Trump associates with ties to Russia. This includes former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who was removed from his position as Trump’s national security adviser after talking to the Russian ambassador and then falsifying the conversation to Vice President Mike Pence.
Schiff said: “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated.”
The March 4 tweet, grabbed attention away from the claims of Russian election interference. Two days prior, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who met with Russia’s U.S. ambassador at least twice last year, said he would recuse himself from any investigation of the matter.
The White House has not provided evidence of the alleged wiretapping, and has struggled in recent days to explain it, saying that Trump meant “general surveillance of the campaign.”
Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican chairman said: “Let me be clear: We know there was not a physical wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”
Comey warned that Russia might try to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2020 and maybe congressional elections next year. He said: “They’ll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018. And one of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful because they introduced chaos and division and discord and sowed doubt about the nature of this amazing country of ours and our democratic process.”
Democrats feel that Comey interfered in the 2016 presidential elections by issuing a statement shortly before Election Day where he reopened the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server, then stating that that no criminal charges were warranted just two days before the election.