FBI Director, Comey, says no evidence to support Trump’s wire-tapping allegation against Obama
Mr. James B.Comey, the FBI Director has told the US House Intelligence Committee, “We have no information to support” President Trump’s assertion on Twitter that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, reports the New York Times.
“We have no information to support those tweets,” Mr. Comey said, repeating moments later, “All I can tell you is that we have no information that supports them.”
He also confirmed investigation into alleged Russia involvement in the last US election.
The N.S.A. chief, Admiral Rogers, weighed in as well, saying that he had no knowledge of anyone asking the British or any other ally to wiretap Mr. Trump. That seemed to refute another claim made by the White House.
“I’ve seen nothing on the N.S.A. side that we engaged in such activity, nor that anyone engaged in such activity,” Admiral Rogers said.
He then explicitly denied having any indication that Mr. Trump was wiretapped by British intelligence at the request of Mr. Obama.
The FBI director has now confirmed: Pres Obama wiretapping Trump Tower did not happen. Comey revelation raises questions about Clinton email inquiry
Mr. Comey’s statements that the F.B.I. is investigating the Trump campaign is certainly to raise comparisons to his disclosure last October that the bureau had discovered a new trove of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Some folks made one of a comparisons to past instances where the Justice Department and the F.B.I. has spoken about the details of some investigations,” Mr. Comey said. “Please keep in mind that those involved with the details of completed investigations. Our ability to share details with Congress and the American people is limited when those investigations are still open, which I hope makes sense. We need to protect people’s privacy. We needed to make sure we don’t get other people clues as to where we are going.”
Mr. Comey said that he had consulted with the Justice Department about whether to disclose the existence of the investigation – something he had not done before he held a press conference in July to announce that there was not enough evidence to charge Mrs. Clinton with a crime.
Mr. Comey’s statements on Monday brought immediate criticism from Mrs. Clinton’s allies and former campaign officials. “In refusing to discuss an ongoing investigation, Director Comey is appropriately adhering to the Justice Department’s standards,” said Brian Fallon, the spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. “The question he has never satisfactorily answered is why he deviated from those standards so egregiously in Hillary Clinton’s case.”
McCarthyism? Um, no.
Mr. Comey provided a rare moment of levity when asked if he believed the inquiry in Russian meddling and possible connections to the Trump campaign was a form of “McCarthyism.”
The question came during a stretch of in which both he and Admiral Rogers unequivocally refuted claims by Mr. Trump that he was wiretapped during the campaign.
As for McCarthyism, his reply was similarly definitive: “I try very hard not to engage in any ‘isms’ of any kind, including McCarthyism,” he said.
But speaking of McCarthyism…
Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and Mrs. Clinton’s Grand Benghazi Inquisitor, has turned into the Inspector Javert of intelligence leaks. And who is he blaming? Much of the Obama administration — including Barack Obama himself.
Mr. Gowdy, in a question to Mr. Comey, asked: “Unauthorized dissemination is punishable by felony up to 10 years in federal prison?”
“Yes, as it should be,” Mr. Comey said.
Mr. Gowdy, who chaired the House select committee on Benghazi and helped expose Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server, asked if a series of people from the Obama administration had access to the intelligence information leaked: John Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., James R. Clapper, the former director of the Office of National Intelligence, Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general, Susan Rice, the former national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, a former National Security Council official, and … Mr. Obama.
He also listed out a series of news reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post that detailed information gleaned from classified intercepts of the calls between Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.
He concluded by asking: “I thought it was against the law to disseminate classified information. Is it?”
“Yes, or sure. It is a serious crime,” Comey said.
The first hearing of the House intelligence committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election opened on Monday with Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s chairman and a Trump ally, trying to split the difference between his hawkish view of Russia and his desire to deflect accusations that President Trump’s campaign benefitted from Russian interference in the election — or worse, possibly colluded with Moscow.
Shortly after Monday’s witnesses — Mr. Comey and Adm. Rogers — took their seats, Mr. Nunes opened by stating that Russia had a long track record of taking aggressive actions against its neighbors, and “its hostile acts take many forms aside from direct military assaults.”
Russia “has a long history of meddling in other countries’ election systems and launching cyber-attacks on a wide range of countries,” he said. “The fact that Russia hacked U.S. election-related databases comes as no shock to this committee.”
But in a nod to a claim pushed by Mr. Trump that he was wiretapped, Mr. Nunes said he wanted to know if there was improper surveillance of campaign officials. And he said it was important to find out “who has leaked classified information.”
“Numerous current and former officials have leaked purportedly classified information in connection to these questions,” Mr. Nunes said. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice.”