Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

Comey: There's No Evidence Obama Wiretapped Trump

FBI director James Comey has confirmed an investigation is under way into possible links between Russia and associates of USA president Donald Trump, as part of a wider probe into Russian interference in the presidential election. The tweets came before Comey appeared in front of a House panel and confirmed for the first time the FBI is investigating possible Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

These are unusual circumstances indeed.

Comey testified that USA intelligence agencies are agreed that Russia's aim evolved into an effort during the election to aid Trump over Clinton.

He said the investigation had been under way since July and but he could not say how long it would take.

But Rogers and Comey were silent on the question about whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian Federation to damage Clinton's campaign.

Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) kicked off the hearing saying that Russian interference in the election "comes as no shock to this committee" but remains "deeply troubling".

While Donald was quick to call Russia's alleged role as "fake", the president was oddly silent about how James is expected to tell lawmakers that the allegation that President Barack Obama, 55, wiretapped Trump Tower during the election is the real "fake news".

Asked by the committee's top Democrat, Senator Adam Schiff, whether Mr Obama could have unilaterally ordered a wiretap of anyone, Mr Comey responded: "No president could".

The FBI and the Department of Justice have "no information that supports those tweets" by Trump in early March, Comey said.

Looming over the hearing was the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was sacked last month for misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about the content of phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak a few weeks before Mr Trump's inauguration on Jan 20. Note that the caption for the video says something else - that Russian Federation didn't "influence" the process.

However, the Department of Justice in larger public interest has given its consent to do so in this case, he said. The White House has defended Trump's accusations but broadened the term "wiretapping" to include more general surveillance.

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Comey warned that Russian Federation may view its intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign as a success.

"I mean, there's a point at which you continue to search for something that everybody who's been briefed hasn't seen or found".

The extent, if any, to which Trump's campaign actively coordinated with Russian government agents is unknown.

Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was sacked last month after he failed to disclose his contacts with Russia's ambassador before Trump took office on January 20.

Trump, for his part, made big headlines in July when he became the first presidential candidate to encourage a foreign government-Russia-to hack an opponent. Russia's relationships with the U.S. has been on shaky ground since.

But he confirmed that the FBI had launched an investigation into the claims back in July. "They were unusually loud in their intervention", he said.

"We know there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower".

"James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence POTUS (President of the United States) colluded with Russian Federation". The Russians are messing with our democracy, and any sane president would be working hard to impose a crushing cost on them so that it never happens again.

"It was not our intention to say that today", Comey said, noting that the they have not been tasked with determining the effectiveness of Russia's efforts.

CNET's Laura Hautala contributed reporting to this story.

The Trump administration so far has been plagued by leaks to the media reportedly containing classified information.

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