Monday, March 20, 2017

Comey finally talks a bunch ... but, typically, doesn't say much

 The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, publicly confirmed an investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of the president were in contact with Moscow.
 Mr. Comey also said the F.B.I. had “no information” to support President Trump’s allegation that Barack Obama wiretapped him.
The hearing’s featured witnesses: Mr. Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

Comey confirms the F.B.I. is investigating Russian election interference.

The F.B.I. is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government — and whether there was any coordination, Mr. Comey said.
Mr. Comey said that it was unusual for the F.B.I. to confirm or deny the existence of any investigations, but that in unusual circumstances when it is in the public interest, the bureau will sometimes discuss such matters.
“This is one of those circumstances,” he said.
“The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” he continued, adding that the investigation included looking at whether associates of Mr. Trump were in contact with Russian officials, and whether they colluded with them.
Admiral Rogers made it clear that Russian efforts to interfere in democratic elections were not a one-off intrusion. They continue — now in Europe.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, responded: “The possibility of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials is a serious, serious matter. The investigation must be fair, independent, and impartial in every way, and the F.B.I. must be allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

Mr. Comey told lawmakers that the investigation began in July, but he conceded that he had only “recently” briefed congressional leaders on the existence of the F.B.I. investigation. Asked why he had waited so long, he said, “Because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

F.B.I. director says there’s ‘no information’ to support Trump wiretapping charge.

Mr. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, “We have no information to support” President Trump’s assertion on Twitter that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
“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.”
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.

Trump and Comey clash over F.B.I. conclusions.

Mr. Trump, watching the House Intelligence Committee closely,offered a stream of comments on Twitter, attacking classified leaks and concluding that, in fact, Russia did not influence the electoral process.
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 Mr. Trump’s campaign benefited from Russian interference in the election — or, worse, possibly colluded with Moscow, opened by stating that Russia had a long track record of aggressive actions against its neighbors, and that “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.”

Mr. Gowdy, who led 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 O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A.; James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence; Loretta E. Lynch, the former attorney general; Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; Ben Rhodes, a former National Security Council official; and … Mr. Obama.
“Yes, for sure,” Mr. Comey said. “It is a serious crime.”
The president himself chimed in on the issue via Twitter, again hinting that the leaks came straight from his predecessor:

Schiff: Collusion with Russia would be a ‘shocking’ betrayal of democracy.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, laid out the case that the Trump campaign was, at best, far too close to Russia — and far too eager to appease Moscow on Ukraine and other issues.
It is “unknowable” whether Russian meddling altered the outcome of the election, Mr. Schiff said, emphasizing that it mattered more that Moscow succeeded in intervening and would do it again.

The president doth protest.

With the House Intelligence Committee convening for its first public hearing on Russian election meddling, the president posted his protests on Twitter — again.

Donald J. Trump

James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!
Donald J. Trump    

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!
Donald J. Trump    

James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!
The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

The search for the real “leaker” is likely to be part of the questioning of the F.B.I. director, since Mr. Nunes has seconded the president’s opinion. But Mr. Schiff asserted on Sunday that there was circumstantial evidence of collusion between Russian intelligence and Trump associates during the campaign. So protest as he might, Mr. Trump is not going to head off that line of questioning.

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