It’s been reported for months that, at least at some point, the FBI was investigating potential links between Donald Trump’s associates and the Russian government. FBI Director James Comey, testifying before the House Intelligence Community, just confirmed that such an investigation is in fact ongoing. From his remarks:
As you know, our practice is not to confirm existence of ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters. But in unusual circumstances where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so, as Justice Department policy has recognized. This is one of those circumstances. I’ve 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. 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. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed. Because it is an open, ongoing investigation, and is classified, I cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are examining.
Comey added that the investigation began in “late July” and that, by the standards of counterintelligence investigations, the seven months that have since elapsed constitute “a fairly short period of time.” Said Comey: “I don’t know how much longer it will take.”
The FBI director also said that neither the FBI nor the wider Department of Justice have found any evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower:
With respect to his tweets: I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The Department has no information that supports those tweets.
NSA Director Mike Rogers, who’s also at the hearing, meanwhile shot down a Fox News report, promoted by the White House, that Obama obtained transcripts of Trump-related conversations via British intelligence. From Rogers’ exchange with California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff:
SCHIFF: The president and his spokesman Sean Spicer have suggested that British intelligence … wiretapped President Trump on President Obama’s behalf. Did you ever request that your counterparts in GCHQ should wiretap President Trump on behalf of President Obama?
ROGERS: No, sir, nor would I. That would be expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes agreement that’s been in place for decades.
SCHIFF: Our British allies have called the president’s suggestion that they wiretapped him for Obama “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.” Would you agree?
ROGERS: Yes, sir.