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Comey confirms Russian Federation links probe
21 March 2017, 01:43 | Terri Saunders
The President notoriously claimed his predecessor Barack Obama ordered wiretaps on his Trump Tower-headquartered campaign
"There was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower", Republican Devin Nunes, chairman of U.S. House Select Intelligence Committee, said at the beginning of the hearing on Monday. Yet Comey's public confirmation on Monday increases pressure on both the White House and Republican leaders in Congress, who so far have resisted calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the matter rather than the Trump Justice Department.
"This is one of those circumstances", he said.
Some see the investigation as a no-win situation for Trump.
He did admit, however, that USA intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Russian Federation did attempt to influence the election campaign - with or without the assist of Trump operatives - because of its preference to see Trump elected over Clinton.
"We don't have any information that supports those tweets", Comey testified.
But Mr Adam Schiff, the Democratic vice-chairman of the committee, detailed a list of alleged links and communications between the Trump team and Russian Federation. There's the House committee investigation, which is continuing - a second hearing is scheduled for March 28.
"[The investigation] includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's effort", he said.
Comey was on the hill for a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the ongoing investigation into the Trump administration's ties to Russian Federation when he found himself in the unique position of testifying about a Trump tweet about testimony that included testimony about a Trump tweet.
Comey's announcement came at the beginning of a hearing that lasted more than four hours.
Trump, however, couldn't sit back and let it play out without jumping onto his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump's administration insisted that "nothing has changed" following the revelations that the FBI is investigating his campaign's links to Russian Federation and said there was no collusion.
At one point, South Carolina's Rep. Trey Gowdy suggested that reporters could be jailed under the Espionage Act for publishing details of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak. Thanks to the length of the hearing and the immediacy of Twitter, Comey was able to comment on the president's commentary without leaving his seat.
The head of the US National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, told Monday's hearing that the allegation had strained relations with London.
But fairness has little to do with it. Mr. Trump now finds himself in a scandal that has raised some of the most troubling questions about a sitting American president in decades.
Still, the hearing offered some concrete information.
Comey also refused to "characterize" Trump's tweets earlier this month first accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in New York City in 2016.
"I have no information that supports those tweet, and we have looked carefully within the Federal Bureau of Investigation", said Comey, adding that the Department of Justice had asked him to share that they also have no such information backing up Trump's assertion. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components: "the department has no information that supports those tweets", he said.
"I've seen nothing on the NSA side that we engaged in such activity, nor that anyone engaged in such activity", he said. Then, in the post-fact, create-your-own-facts world of the White House briefing room, it adds that Mr Donald Trump stands by the wiretapping claim that has just been publicly rubbished.
Former President Barack Obama's ambassador to Russia Michael McCaul confirmed he shared this feeling to NBCNews in December, saying that Putin "has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011". Yates reportedly warned the Trump team that Flynn could be blackmailed because of his communications with Kislyak.
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