FBI Director James Comey, in an extraordinary House hearing meant to clear the air on a host of allegations relating to the 2016 campaign, confirmed publicly for the first time Monday that the bureau is probing Russian meddling in the race including possible “links” to the Trump team – while disputing the president’s claim that his predecessor wiretapped him.
The FBI director was called to testify alongside National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers for a public session of the House intelligence committee. Comey’s testimony could serve to fuel tensions with the White House, which maintains there’s no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
Comey was careful in his testimony not to confirm any details of what the bureau’s Russia investigation has uncovered or dismissed, saying he could not comment further since the probe is “open” and “ongoing.”
But he used his opening statement to address head-on the probe that has been the subject of news reports for months. He noted while the FBI normally would not confirm ongoing investigations, he could make an exception for such “unusual” circumstances.
“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said. “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.”
He added that this probe will “include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
In response, a senior administration official told Fox News that “nothing has changed” on their end: “Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal. … We take them at their word.”