By Miriam Raftery
March 20, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – FBI Director James Comey has confirmed that his agency is investigating alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. Comey also made clear that there is no evidence to support President Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped during the campaign.
In his opening statement to the committee, Comey said of the FBI investigation, “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.”
Trump sent tweets before the hearing began claiming allegations of election interference by Russia was “fake news” pushed forward by Democrats, even though the Intelligence Committee hearing was bipartisan.
There was, however, a distinct partisan difference in the tone of questions asks. Republican Senators focused on how to crack down on leaks of classified information, and seemed unconcerned with finding out whether Russia may have influenced the election or whether Trump operatives may have violated criminal laws.
Democrats asked pointed questions on alleged actions by specific individuals such as Michael Flynn, the National Security Director who resigned after revelations that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence and hid secret meetings with Russia’s ambassador.
Last week, new disclosures revealed that Flynn was paid $35,000 by Russian Times, Russia’s official propaganda outlet, an apparent violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause that prohibits any public official from accepting money from a foreign government or a company controlled or funded by a foreign government.
Administration officials have tried to spin Comey’s testimony to suggest that no evidence of collusion has been found between Trump’s inner circle and Russia. But in fact, it is FBI policy not to comment on any findings during an investigation.
The agency normally will neither confirm nor deny that an investigation is ongoing, but in this case, obtained special permission from the Justice Department to disclose that an investigation is ongoing.
Comey also confirmed that the FBI believed it was clear that Russia’s aim was to prevent former Secretary of State Clinton from winning the November election, and that Russia actively sought to help Trump win the presidency.