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FBI director confirms probe of Trump campaign and Russia

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James Comey

FBI Director James Comey. Phioto by FBI, via Wikimedia Commons.

FBI director James Comey confirmed that the bureau is investigating whether there was coordination between Russian officials and President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee opened hearings on Monday to determine the extent of Russian interference and whether campaign officials from either side helped. According to the Washington Post, Comey testified that the FBI is “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.”

Comey—who explained that he usually refused to comment on an ongoing investigation but felt compelled to, in this case, because of the overwhelming public interest and because he had been authorized by the Justice Department to do so—also testified that the probe would seek to determine whether any crimes were committed.

The wide-ranging hearings also dealt with President Trump’s allegations, originally published on Twitter, that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,” Comey testified, referring to Trump’s March 4 statements on Twitter accusing Obama of having his “wires tapped” and that Obama was a “bad (or sick) guy” for daring to “tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process.” Under questioning from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff (D- Calif.), the FBI chief stated, categorically, that the president can never authorize a wiretap against anyone.

Republicans on the panel grilled Comey as to one of Trump’s main concerns: leaks to the media. Under questioning from committee chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Comey reiterated that leaking classified information was a crime, as well as a breach of trust with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts.

Trump, for his part, sent out several tweets before and during Comey’s testimony, calling the entire investigation “fake news” and stating that the real story is about finding and punishing leakers.

Nevertheless, Comey warned that the Russians are probably feeling emboldened by what happened during the election and will probably try and do it again. “They’ll be back in 2020, they may be back in 2018,’’ Comey said. “One of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful.”

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