The biggest story of the day was undoubtedly FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, where he was expected to address two hot-button issues: whether President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during then-candidate Trump’s campaign, and whether the Trump campaign actually did collude with Russia. Here’s how the hearing shook out.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) kicked things off by reiterating the threat that Russia has posed to numerous foreign elections and pointed out that there was no evidence of a physical wiretap on Trump Tower, but noted that other surveillance methods could be used.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) followed up by linking Russia to the WikiLeaks dumps before bizarrely reading from the thoroughly debunked Steele dossier. He argued that Russia used its scandalous leverage over Trump in order to protect its invasion of Ukraine and bolster its own interests in the region.
Comey: “I have 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 and 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.”
Going state by state, Nunes asked Admiral Mike Rogers if he had “any evidence that Russia cyber actors changed vote tallies” in several key states that Trump won. Comey also declined to have any evidence that the votes were changed in the aforementioned states.
Rogers admitted that the NSA can continue surveillance of foreign actors even if they accidentally pick up communications from American citizens.
According to Comey, Americans can collude with a foreign power without even knowing that they’re doing it.
Comey was noticeably silent on any matters related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the FBI to obtain the court’s permission to spy on American citizens who are suspected of colluding with a foreign power.