FBI director James Comey was questioned for more than six hours by the House intelligence committee on the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in last year’s US presidential election. He is testified alongside the NSA director, Admiral Michael Rogers.
Mr Comey, who came under fire during the election campaign for his handling of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server probe, was also questioned about allegations that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower.
- The FBI director confirmed the agency is probing Russian meddling into the US election, including any potential links between the Trump campaign and the country’s government.
- The FBI director said the agency has “no information that supports” tweets from Donald Trump accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign.
- The NSA director said he agreed with the angry statement issued last Thursday by GCHQ, Britain’s electronic surveillance agency, in which it slammed the notion of its spying on its closest ally as “utterly ridiculous”.
- In his opening statement, Michael Rogers said that the NSA stood by its earlier report on Russian meddling and its level of confidence in the findings had not changed.
- In his opening statements, Republican committee chairman Devin Nunes reiterated his previous public statement that he has seen no evidence Trump Tower was wiretapped.
- The Trump administration maintained its position on the allegation that he was put under surveillance as a candidate
John Murray Brown
Welcome to our live coverage of the US House Intelligence Committee hearings.
Here are some of the things we’ll be looking out for:
Will Comey acknowledge the existence of an investigation into Russian involvement?
Will he confirm Mr Trump’s associates are being investigated?
Will Hillary Clinton’s emails resurface?
James Comey and Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, have just arrived in the committee hearing room.
Devin Nunes, the Committee’s Republican head, is starting the hearing with a list of US grievances against Russia.
To wit: Syria, RT (the Kremlin’s English-language TV network), and meddling in the US election which he says “comes as no shock to this Committee”.
Calls Russian interference in US election “biggest intelligence failure since 9/11″
On Trump’s claim of wiretap of Trump Tower, Nunes repeats his assertion that there is no evidence whatsoever that there was a physical wiretap of Trump.
But he says that Committee has not determined yet whether “other surveillance activities were used against Mr Trump and his associates”
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee who has been very critical of Donald Trump, is having his say before Comey and Rogers start to speak.
Schiff says Russia “successfully meddled” in US democracy and US intelligence has concluded that Moscow will meddle again in the future.
Schiff talks about RT, the “slick” media arm of the Russian government.
RT came into focus after it emerged that Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s national security adviser, had taken money from the organisation and appeared at a dinner in Moscow where he sat beside Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Flynn was later fired for lying about conversations with the Russian ambassador in Washington
Schiff says Congress wants to know whether Russia was hacking the campaign for the sake of meddling or because it was trying to gather intelligence on the US.
Schiff talks about Chris Steele, the former MI6 operative, who compiled a dossier that contained allegations (which have not been verified) about the Trump campaign and Russia.
Schiff is going hard on Carter Page, who was on a foreign advisory committee for Trump campaign, but was a fairly low-level figure in Moscow before he became he known for his involvement on the Trump campaign. Page has not been involved with Trump team since last year
Schiff has shifted to Roger Stone, a Republican political operative who is close to Donald Trump and is known for his controversial moves.
During the campaign, Stone implied that he had knowledge about the hacking of Hillary Clinton.
Schiff also mentions Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, as key figure – repeats claim in dossier that it was Manafort who hired Carter Page – and notes that the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine was changed during the Republican National Convention – suggesting that Manafort might have been responsible
For some great colour on Stone, read this Lunch with the FT that my colleague Edward Luce did with Stone last year.
Schiff has now shifted to the Republican convention last year when the Republicans removed language about arming Ukrainian rebels from the party platform at the convention.
He asks whether this is one of many coincidences that raise questions about the Trump campaign and Russia.
This Schiff opening statement totals 2,800 word and is a pretty comprehensive summary of all the various Russia allegations that have surfaced in the past years with regards to the Trump campaign and the former administration’s report of Moscow hacking the US election.
We have yet to see any definitive proof that the claims in Steel’s dossier or any of the other allegations are true.
But Schiff’s statement underscores the extent of the smoke/ hysteria surrounding all of this.
For those who want to see the entire thing, Schiff’s staff have posted the recording of his opening statement on YouTube:
Schiff suggests that Russia may have used techniques to “corrupt” people connected with the Trump campaign, in the same way that Russian intelligence attempts to cultivate officials in Europe.
This Schiff quote summarises the current Russia controversy pretty well:
“Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible.
But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere.
We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out.”
Nunes and Schiff are spearheading one of the investigations on Capitol Hill into Russian attempts to interfere with the US election.
But the focus will shortly shift to what the FBI is doing on the same issue?
Schiff asks whether the political consequences of their investigation will make it difficult to have a truly bipartisan probe.
Admiral Mike Rogers speaks now, before Comey.
Rogers was considered by Donald Trump to become Director of National Intelligence, but did not get the job.
Rogers says the intelligence community has not changed its conclusion from January that Russia interfered in the US election, but says he will not reveal details in a public forum.
Comey has started speaking.
Comey says to Committee: “We respect your responsibility to investigate those things that are important to the American people”
Comey says FBI practice is not to confirm the existence of investigations. But says there are exceptions.
He says FBI is investigating Russian interference in the election, and whether there was any connection between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Comey says he cannot reveal any more details publicly
Comey asks Congress not to draw conclusions if Comey says he cannot comment in response to certain questions.
Comey says he knows it is “frustrating” that FBI can’t say more publicly.
“I know speculating is part of human nature. But it really isn’t fair to draw conclusions [from 'No comment's]”
Comey says there is no timetable for when Russia investigation will be completed
Comey says: “I promise you we will follow the facts wherever they may lead”.
Emphasises that sharing classified information is a federal crime (carrying serious consequences) – a nod to the recent intelligence leaks to news media
Nunes is asking Comey and Rogers whether Russia involvement in the election led to any votes being changed in US swing states.
Comey and Rogers say they have no evidence to support this.
We are now talking about FISA warrants – something the US government needs to conduct surveillance on a US person.
This is obviously a source of conversation now because of Trump’s repeated claims that he was put under surveillance by the previous administration during his campaign
Nunes has already said yesterday that the Committee had no evidence that there was a FISA warrant issued last year to put Trump under surveillance
We are now in a deep line of questioning about the ‘unmasking’ of Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who was dismissed after it emerged that he had not spoken truthfully to Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US
Tom Rooney, Republican from Florida, is asking Admiral Rogers about this Washington Post article in which multiple current and former intelligence sources told the Post that Flynn had had multiple communications with the Russian ambassador – ultimately leading to Flynn’s ousting.
Rooney is asking Rogers if the NSA and FBI can go after the intelligence officials who were responsible for leaking this information
Rogers says they are currently conducting an internal investigation about who was responsible for unmasking US individuals in leaks.
The past 10 minutes have focused almost entirely on leaks by US intelligence officials to the press – a topic raised repeatedly by Trump and White House officials – versus the actual investigation into Russia
Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman from South Carolina, is up with his line of questioning now.
You may remember Gowdy from Clinton’s Benghazi hearing
Gowdy is also using his allotted time to talk about leaks – versus the Russia investigation and the FBI’s admission that it is investigating any potential links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
“I thought it was against the law to disseminate classified information. Is it?” Gowdy asks.
Comey says it is, but won’t comment on it further
Comey says the FBI has seen no evidence to to support Donald Trump’s tweets about Trump Tower being under surveillance – and neither has the Department of Justice
First laugh of the day. Schiff asks Comey if he is “engaged in McCarthyism”.
Comey shoots back: “I try not to engage in any -isms of any kind.”
Schiff is directing all of his questioning around Trump’s tweet storm earlier this month.
Schiff is now asking about Rogers about the allegations by a Fox News analyst (and repeated from the White House podium last week) that Britain’s intelligence spy agency (GCHQ) helped the Obama administration wiretap Trump Tower.
Rogers says this is not true.
Asked how these allegations might affect the US-UK relationship, Rogers says: “It clearly frustrates a key ally of ours”.
He adds: “I believe the relationship is strong enough” [to withstand this] but agrees White House’s decision to air these unverified allegations is not helpful
Comey notes FBI’s investigation into whether there was any coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials has been going on since July.
He says it’s hard to tell whether the agency is at the beginning middle or end of their investigation – as they don’t know how much other information is out there. But says usually FBI investigations take a long time
We are back to the Republicans.
Trey Gowdy is asking whether journalists should be prosecuted for publishing classified information….
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, has just released a statement about Comey’s acknowledgement that there is an ongoing investigation into possible links between Moscow and Trump campaign officials:
“The FBI director has now confirmed what members from both parties in both the House and the Senate have said: President Obama did not order a wiretap on Trump Tower. No matter what else happened, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it – President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower did not happen.
“By tweeting this claim and attempting to put unproven theories from the fringes of the American media into the mainstream, President Trump has severely damaged his credibility, which is essential to being president. He needs to retract his claim immediately.
“President Trump owes the American people and President Obama more than just an explanation, but an apology. He should admit he was wrong, stop the outlandish Tweets, and get to work on behalf of this country.”
Gowdy is now going after former Obama officials.
Asking Comey whether Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Sally Yates would all have had access to info on Flynn communications with Russians – suggesting that they are behind the leaks to the media
Gowdy asks Comey whether he briefed Obama on Flynn’s communications with Russian ambassador.
Comey declines to answer
Gowdy repeats the phrase “felonious dissemination of classified information” in reference to media leaks about Flynn.
Gowdy argues that the information in the media reports wasn’t to help Rogers or Comey, clearly, as both already had the information.
So that the people leaking to the newspapers clearly had more “nefarious” motives
Gowdy repeatedly tries to get Comey to confirm that there is an ongoing investigation into media leaks from the Intelligence Community.
Comey repeatedly refuses to take the bait
Worth stressing: what we are watching right now are two very different hearings.
Democrats are repeatedly questioning Comey and Rogers about the FBI’s now acknowledged investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Republicans are focusing on leaks from the Intelligence Community to the media
Comey says the Russians didn’t liaise directly with Wikileaks, using some sort of “cut out” (intermediary)
Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, brings up the underlying question that lawmakers, reporters, Americans, etc all have about the Trump-Russia matter.
As Himes puts it: “Our president will attack everyone and anyone. He will attack the cast of Hamilton.”
Except for one person: Vladimir Putin, Himes says.
Roger Stone has just tweeted that he should be able to respond to “any smears or half truths” alleged in the hearing.
Here is his tweet, for those who have this feature enabled on their browser:
Manfort resurfaces in Himes’ questioning of Comey about Manafort’s work in Ukraine for the former president. You can read more about that here.
But bad pronunciation by Himes of the name “Yanukovich” – the former Ukrainian president ! Himes initially says: Yan-OOH-ko-vich”. It’s “Yan-ooh-KO-vich” ….
Nunes asks Comey whether the FBI would investigate any attempts (failed or successful) by the Russians to infiltrate another political campaign… say, cough, Hillary Clinton’s.
Comey says the FBI would take any attempt by the Russians to infiltrate any campaign very seriously.
Comey and Rogers both say they believe Moscow’s goal in interfering with the US election was to hurt Hillary Clinton – someone Vladimir Putin believed had interfered in Russia’s own domestic affairs and had long harboured a dislike
Comey says Russia’s other two goals were to help Donald Trump and hurt Americans’ trust in the Democratic system – says Intellgience Community reached all three of those conclusions by December
“Vladimir Putin really hated Hillary Clinton,” Comey says, suggesting that he “had a clear preference” for Donald Trump.
Republican Mike Conaway from Texas is now trying to engage in some weird logic game with Comey – pressing him on how the FBI realised that Russia wanted Trump to lose just by the fact it didn’t want Clinton to win.
Comey notes that the two facts (Clinton winning; Trump losing) are inseparable – one can’t happen without the other
We have now hit the two-hour mark.
At the same time, the three-day confirmation hearing for Judge Neal Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has begun before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Google Trends reports that so far search interest in #JamesComey has soared above that of #NeilGorsuch.
Peter King, a Republican from New York, is bringing up the incident when Obama told former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” after the election.
For those who don’t remember the background is here.
We are back to Schiff.
Schiff asks Comey whether Russians would have liked to see a US president who had a dim view of Nato, Russian sanctions, and a high view of Vladimir Putin and Brexit and other departures of Europe.
Comey reluctantly acknowledges that this is the case (the implication being that Trump expressed all these views during the campaign)
Terri Sewell, Democrat from Alabama, is asking Comey about Flynn and about his connections to RT, the Kremlin’s English-language TV network.
Comey repeatedly saying that he cannot comment on specific individuals – i.e. Flynn.
Sewell continues suggesting that Flynn was taking money from the Russian government in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution.
In this entire line of questioning, Comey has answered few to none of Sewell’s questions – all of which concern Mike Flynn.
But it underscores Democrats’ broader strategy in this hearing: to highlight – again and again – the reported links, verified and unverified, between Trump campaign officials and the Russians
Nunes asks: “Do Russians historically prefer Republicans?”
“Did Russians prefer Mitt Romney over Barack Obama?”
“Did Russians prefer John McCain over Barack Obama?”
He is attempting to make the argument that the Republican Party has historically been the tough-on-Russia party – so how could Russia have preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton?
But of course Trump was not a typical Republican candidate in many of his views
And again, we are back to…. leaks!
Thanks to Peter King, the Republican from New York.
King remarks that he “has never seen such a sustained period of leaks” to the media
King appears to be trying to get Comey to reveal who the Intelligence Community leakers here on the spot.
Comey says he can’t reveal who was in the room with him in certain briefings because doing so would reveal that classified briefings have or have not happened – something he is not authorised to do.
We’ve just received a statement from a White House official on Comey briefing.
“Nothing has changed. Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal.
Obama’s CIA director said so. Obama’s Director of National Intelligence said so. We take them at their word.”
And here is a tweet from the President on the hearing, sent a few minutes ago from his official POTUS Twitter account.
For those who can’t view it in their browser, it says: “FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.”
Just to clarify on Trump’s tweet.
Comey says he cannot confirm or deny on whether he briefed Obama on Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador – but also said earlier in the hearing that any instances in which he refused to confirm or deny something would be linked to FBI protocol on discussing ongoing investigations and classified information.
So, wrong to read anything more into that
Andre Carson, Democrat from Indiana, is now asking Admiral Rogers about Russia’s annexation of Crimea – which has just passed a three-year-anniversary.
Carson asking Rogers about Russia’s motivations in Crimea, Ukraine and the effect of US sanctions on Russia
Jackie Speier, Democrat from California, says analogy for current controversy is a “spider web with a tarantula in the middle”.
The tarantula, she asserts, is Vladimir Putin.
Roger Stone and Carter Page, she claims, are in the web.
Speier is now talking about the relationship between Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil company, and Rex Tillerson, who before being Secretary of State was head of Exxon.
Speier is suggesting that Tillerson is sympathetic or close to Sechin, a Putin ally, because of their relationship when Tillerson was at Exxon.
While Speier isn’t the first person to air this theory, it has many critics – including Democrats and non-partisan Russian experts – who note that spending time with Sechin was a key part of Tillerson’s job at Exxon – and does not necessarily indicate something more nefarious.
Below is a file photo of Russian President Putin talking to Sechin during a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow in July 2013.
And we have more tweets from the President, who appears to also be live-tweeting (a curated version of) the hearing.
For those who can’t read it on their browser, his tweet says: “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process”.
The latest tweet said: “NSA Director Rogers tells Congress unmasking individuals endangers national security.”
The good news to come out of the hearing for Trump camp: FBI and NSA say they have no evidence that Russian interference in the election altered the election’s result.
We’re also likely to see a fair amount of spin from the White House on the issue of media leaks that emerged in the hearing – thanks to Republican questioning.
But important to note how little Comey and Rogers did say on the leak front beyond acknowledging that it was a federal crime for a US official to leak classified information – and that the US Intelligence Community would do everything in its power to prevent leaks from happening. And punish those responsible for them
Sean Spicer is due to hold his daily press briefing at 1:30 today – will be interesting to see how the White House puts a positive slant on the majority of headlines from today’s hearing – the most important, of course, being that the FBI is indeed conducting an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Moscow
The other headline that Spicer will have a hard time responding to? The repeated – and vehement – denials from the FBI’s Comey that Trump Tower was in any way wiretapped by the Obama administration or that British intelligence helped the Obama administration to conduct such surveillance.
Trump has made these assertions over and over again the past couple of weeks – hard to see how the White House continues to defend those assertions when the FBI has just firmly batted them down.
(Although “hard to see” are famous last words with this administration)
Another Trump tweet that Comey has just thrown cold water on?
This one, that reads: “FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.”
Comey notes – yet again – that his ‘no comments’ hold no significance.
“Please don’t interpret my [no comment] as meaning this or meaning that,” Comey says.
This is actually an interesting line of questioning – led by Mike Quigley, Democrat from Ohio, regarding how a US individual can coordinate with a foreign government actor either knowingly or unknowingly.
Comey notes “unknowingly” could be in a scenario when a US individual thinks they are “helping a buddy who’s a researcher at a university in China” but that buddy is actually passing the information on to a Chinese government.
In the scenario of “knowing” coordination, the US individual is actively trying to help the Chinese government – and is disseminating information to them on purpose, Comey notes.
Another scenario of unwitting coordination with a foreign actor, Comey notes, would be if an American falls in love with a foreigner who is actually a spy for a hostile foreign power.
Another important point to stress: Comey says they are investigating whether coordination took place between Trump officials and the Moscow government.
Not collusion between the two.
To clarify on that point: collusion is not a legal term – so that’s why Comey is pushing back against it.
And again another Trump tweet (from @Potus account) on leaks.
For those who can’t see this on their browsers, its says: “FBI Director Comey says classified leaks to the media have been ‘unusually active’ recently.”
Michael Turner, Republican from Ohio, asks if the intelligence community can figure out a way to push back on false reports from “the Washington Post and New York Times” that involve classified information.
Comey says there is not – and that this is not something the intelligence community can comment on – even when the media reports are wrong.
Brad Wenstrup, Republican from Ohio, is up now. Poses a hypothetical: will Wenstrup be at risk of being caught up in an FBI investigation if he meets with the Iraqi ambassador he met at a conference last week?
Comey says the FBI does not provide guidance on its investigations.
10 Minute Break so Comey can use the restroom!
“I’m not made of steel” Comey says, asking for the break
Comey has just come back. But in the meantime, an update from the White House where Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, has just started daily press briefing
Initial takeaways from Spicer:
- Spicer says that the Comey briefing has shown no evidence of Trump-Russia coordination has emerged thus far
- LEAKS, LEAKS, LEAKS
Spicer says the president will not withdraw his accusation of the Obama administration wiretapping
Asked by reporter if Trump still has full confidence in FBI director, Spicer says: “There is no reason to believe he doesn’t”
Spicer says that Carter Page was “a hanger-on” in terms of the Trump campaign
Spicer also downplays Manafort’s role in Trump campaign says he had only a “limited” role.
Actually, Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager – although only for several months
Flynn meanwhile was “a volunteer” on Trump campaign, Spicer says
At the White House press conference, the press secretary is given a question about why there is no discussion about possible coordination between Clinton campaign and Russian officials.
Spicer laments the absence about “their own [Clinton campaign's] collusion or involvement with Russian officials”. “There is no parity,” he complains.
Back from the break, Comey declines to comment on whether Trump is personally being investigated by the FBI.
Over at the White House, Spicer is asked about his comment about Paul Manafort having “limited role” on campaign.
Spicer says, I’m not dismissing Paul Manafort “as a hanger-on” but says Manafort was only managing Trump’s campaign for about 8 weeks.
In fact, Manafort was working on Trump’s campaign from March to August; acting as campaign manager from April
Back at the Capitol, Comey, describing Russia’s interests against Hillary Clinton in the election, draws a comparison to…football.
“I hate the New England Patriots, and no matter who they play I want them to lose,” the US FBI director says.
The irony is not lost. President Trump is a fan of Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, and gave him a lift back to DC on Air Force One on the weekend.
Below, pictured, is Mr Kraft (left) at the presidential inauguration in Washington in January, arriving with billionaire activist investor and Trump advisor Carl Icahn.
Spicer: “Everyone keeps conflating that there is an investigation into the 2016 election. Got it. No disagreement there.”
But says this is not the same thing as existing evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump team
Meanwhile, Spicer doubles-down on Trump’s surveillance claims: “The president understands that you don’t literally wiretap people” – he says, adding there was no physical wiretapping of Trump Tower.
But he insists there will be more information to emerge on surveillance: “We are still at the beginning phase [of investigating] what surveillance occurred and why.”
In one of the more tense moments, now in the fifth hour of questioning, the Democrats get Comey to refute Trump’s tweets from two hours ago.
“We don’t have anything that supports those tweets,” Comey said, when Democrat Jim Himes read out a tweet by Trump declaring that the NSA and the FBI had said Russia did not influence the election.
“I have not been following anybody on Twitter while I’ve been sitting here,” Comey said, with Himes firing back: “This tweet has gone out to millions of Americans, 16.1m to be exact.”
Spicer has now finished – a relatively short news briefing for what has already been a big news day, although the president and staff are due to be leaving shortly to fly down to Louisville, Kentucky for a rally there this evening.
The big takeaways from the Spicer press briefing:
1) Trump is still not letting up on his allegation that he was put under surveillance by the Trump administration – even though the FBI has said there is no evidence to support this allegation
2) The Trump administration is doubling down on its insistence that there is no evidence of coordination between Moscow officials and Trump campaign – and reporters should spend their time on other stories
3) The White House will be making the investigation of leaks from ex-administration officials and members of the Intelligence Community a key focal point in the coming days/ weeks
Back at the Comey briefing: we have just learned one new thing in this hour…
The FBI Director is a New York Giants fan!
In one of the lighter moment’s of today’s (long) briefing, Comey jokes he cannot stand the New England Patriots because of their “sustained excellence” – something he says drives him crazy as a long-suffering Giants supporter
In questioning by Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, Comey admits he did not brief members of Congress on his agency’s investigation into possible connections between Russian officials and the Trump campaign until recently even though the investigation was opened in July.
Comey says he briefed Dan Coats, Mr Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, on Coats’ first day
Now, Denny Heck, Democrat from Washington, has the floor. Sums up today’s hearing by saying: “We have heard nothing but terribly disturbing evidence” [about Russia's alleged interference in US election.]
Heck alleges all evidence indicates that Russia “had help from the inside”. The congressman notes the presidents “beats up our oldest allies” – including Australia – but “won’t utter any criticism” about Russia.
Heck says today’s hearing is not about “re-litigating the election”.
“It’s about patriotism,” he says
Answering a question from Heck, Admiral Rogers says he believes the investigation is “a positive thing” for everyone in the US “regardless of party”.
“Absent some change, this behaviour [by Russia] is not ready to stop”, Rogers says
Comey: “I am not here voluntarily and I would rather not be talking about this at all.”
But he says he believes the nature and significance of Russia’s interference was so unprecedented it mandated an unprecedented response.
After the hearing finishes, Comey says, “we are going to close our mouths and do our work.”
Will Hurd, the Republican congressman from Texas, who is now doing the questioning, is a veteran of the CIA.
He is also a viral internet star as of last week, thanks to a bipartisan roadtrip that he took from Texas to Washington with one of his Democratic colleagues, Texas Rep Beto O’Rourke.
The two broadcast the majority of the trip on Facebook Live.
Hurd’s main line of questioning is about the hack of the DNC – and when the FBI learned details of the hack, and notified the DNC of the hack.
Hurd asks if FBI wishes it had done anything differently with regards to notifying the DNC about the hack.
Comey replies: absolutely. “We would have sent up a much larger flare… I might have walked over there [to the DNC] myself.”
This New York Times tick-tock does a good job explaining why the DNC was so slow to respond to the FBI”s notification about the hack: they didn’t believe it was actually the FBI that was notifying them.
We are well into Hour Six and Trey Gowdy again has the floor.
Gowdy notes that Comey, as someone who knows their way around courtroom, knows that hearsay can’t be admitted in the courtroom.
Congressman tries to draw connection between courtroom hearsay and unsubstantiated leaks in the media.
Nunes in final remarks notes that House Select Committee on Intelligence is conducting its own investigation into alleged Russia hack – just like the FBI – and that if Comey has any additional significant information indicating that White House officials may have coordinated with Moscow, he should share it with the Committee.
Nunes finishes by saying that Comey – with investigation into Trump aides now being made public – has put a “big grey cloud” over the White House
And on that note – on what is now a somewhat cloudy day in DC – we are wrapping up.
Thanks for following along in our coverage of what ended up being a very eventful Comey hearing.
This is a story that is certainly not going away. But their work today is done: at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, left to rght Jim Himes (D-CT), ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) and chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA).
To summarise, we have learnt that the FBI is indeed conducting an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials coordinated with members of the Russian government during the 2016 election; that the FBI opened that investigation in July; and that this investigation is still ongoing.
We also learnt that the FBI has seen no evidence to support Trump’s allegation that he was under surveillance by the Obama administration – essentially pouring cold water on the president’s claim.
It is incredibly rare for the head of the FBI to comment on an open investigation although not, of course, unheard of. (We all remember Comey commenting on the FBI’s open investigation in Hillary Clinton’s email server).
But the acknowledgement of this open investigation does indeed now represent “a cloud” hanging over the Trump White House – as Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes put it in his closing remarks.