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Heads of FBI and National Security Agency Testify, Trump Live Tweets Commentary

By Laurie Kotka

March 20, 2017

Today, FBI Director, James Comey and National Security Advisor, Admiral Mike Rogers testified in a five-hour hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, answering questions on Russian interference in the U.S. elections, Trump’s wiretapping campaigns, and leaks of confidential information.

Comey affirmed that in July 2016, the FBI opened an investigation into Russia’s ties to influence U.S. election results. That investigation is still currently open.  Rogers, aligning the NSA with the Justice Department and FBI, reiterated the intelligence community’s January statement that Russia indeed interfered with the election.

Despite testimony from both the Director of the FBI and the Trump’s National Security Advisor, Trump defended Russia from U.S. intelligence evidence to the contrary, insisting Russia did not impact the electoral process.

When asked about sufficient cause for an FBI counterintelligence investigation into campaign meddling, Comey explained that credible charges of wrongdoing or the possibility of an official acting as an agent of a foreign government merit such an investigation.

Comey also spoke to Trump’s wiretapping claims. “With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, 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.”

Rogers denied the involvement of the British intelligence community. His testimony refuted claims advanced by White House press secretary, Sean Spicer (that originated with Fox News) alleging Obama sought the help of the U.S. ally in surveilling Trump.

GOP representatives focused on the source of leaks of classified information, parroting an early morning tweet from Trump.  Leading this charge was Representative Trey Gowdy (SC) who pressed Comey for the names of those with access to previously compromised information, insinuating the source came from within the Obama administration. Gowdy asserted those involved with the release of classified information should be prosecuted.

House Intelligence Committee member, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), stressed the need for bipartisan collaboration and an investigation unhindered by political ties, “The question most people have is whether we can really conduct this investigation in the kind of thorough and nonpartisan manner that the seriousness of the issues merit, or whether the enormous political consequences of our work will make that impossible. The truth is, I don’t know the answer. But I do know this: If this committee can do its work properly, if we can pursue the facts wherever they lead, unafraid to compel witnesses to testify, to hear what they have to say, to learn what we will and, after exhaustive work, reach a common conclusion, it would be a tremendous public service and one that is very much in the national interest.”

The entire hearing, along with the written transcript, is available through C-PSAN.

Future hearings scheduled for:

  • March 28 – House Intelligence Committee; Former CIA Director John Brennan, Former Director of-of National Intelligence Clapper, Brennan
  • March 30 – Senate Intelligence Committee, Disinformation: A Primer on Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaign

10 a.m. – History and characteristics of information campaigns by Russia.                                  2 p.m. – The Role and capabilities of cyber operations.

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