Comey: FBI Investigating Trump-Russia Ties
The directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency refused on Monday to rule out the possibility of collusion between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election as FBI Director James Comey confirmed the Bureau is investigating potential collusion between Trump officials and Moscow.
Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers both appeared before the House Intelligence Committee hearing in which Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asked Comey whether he would corroborate former national intelligence director James Clapper’s statement that there is no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
“Mr. King, it’s not something I can comment on,” Comey replied.
“Likewise, I’m not going to comment on an ongoing investigation’s conclusions,” Rogers added.
Comey confirmed on Monday that there is an ongoing investigation of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, including any links between Trump or anyone on his team and Moscow. “The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said during the hearing. “And that 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 efforts.”
The FBI director said the investigation into Russian election interference began in July, during the height of alleged attempts by the Vladimir Putin-led Moscow regime to sway the presidential contest against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that he had a clear preference” for Trump, Comey said.
A recently declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that every US intelligence agency concurred that Putin ordered a concerted effort to “undermine” democracy in America and boost Trump’s chances of victory. “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” the report stated. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
President Trump took to twitter to trash the newly-announced probe. “James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia,” he tweeted. “This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!” Trump also tweeted, “The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” This, as the Washington Post reports Trump has hired operatives to monitor the loyalty of his cabinet officials.
During Monday’s hearing, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) delivered a lengthy statement detailing a timeline of events linking Trump campaign officials including disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort to Russian government officials. Among the suspicious activities mentioned by Schiff were the well-timed leaks of information that damaged Clinton’s campaign and helped Trump emerge victorious in November, secret meetings between members of Trump’s team and Russian government and business figures and the deletion from the Republican party platform of an endorsement for arming Ukraine.
“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,” said Schiff. “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt US persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out.”