FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that his agency is running an investigation into possible connections or coordination between President Trump’s associates and the Russian government.
Comey confirmed it in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee alongside National Security Agency (NSA) Director Admiral Mike Rogers. Comey, however, declined to say whether Mr. Trump himself is part of that investigation.
As far as Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated allegation that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the election, Comey said, “I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully within the FBI,” Comey said, adding that the “[Department of Justice] has no information that supports those tweets.”
On the Russia probe, Comey said it’s “impossible to say” how long it will take to conduct the counterintelligence investigation. Comey said that congressional leaders were briefed only recently for the first time about the probe, even though it was launched last July.
Asked why they weren’t notified until recently, Comey said, “It was a matter of such sensitivty that we wouldn’t include it in the quarterly briefings.”
Comey said that the FBI never obtaiend direct access to the hacked machines at the Democratic National Committee.
“We never got direct access to the machines themselves,” Comey said, adding that the firm the DNC hired to review the forensics, handed over that information to the FBI around June of last year.
Comey appeared to express regret over how the situation was handled and he said knowing what the FBI knows now, he would have “sent up a much larger flare” and he said “I may have walked over there myself.”
Comey and Rogers reiterated the intelligence community’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign involving covert intelligence operations and overt propaganda to undermine faith in the 2016 U.S. election, disparage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump’s election chances. In addition to hacking the DNC, and waging a propaganda campaign of disinformation, Comey said that Russia’s efforts were “aimed at voter registration systems in various states” during the election.
“That’s where it was focused,” he said, adding that their efforts were not focused on “the vote itself — that we’ve seen.”
They also reiterated that they have no information supporting the idea that Russia’s activities helped determined the election outcome.