FBI Director James Comey on Monday dropped a bombshell, discussing an ongoing investigation into possible coordination between Russian officials and President Donald Trump’s campaign. At the same time, he refused to confirm a probe into illegal leaking by high-ranking government officials. He’s so odd.
FBI Director Comey confirmed there is an investigation into Russia’s intrusion in U.S. elections.
There is no evidence Russia hacked U.S. voting machines, but the FBI is probing Russian meddling in the election and any links, including links to the Trump campaign. There is also a counter-terrorism investigation.
By early December of last year, the intelligence community believed Russian President Putin had a clear preference for a President Trump over a President Clinton, Comey told the committee. They also believe Russia thought Hillary was going to win and turned their attentions to hurting her from late Fall on. That’s all supposition and there’s no evidence as of yet though they’ve been investigating since last July.
After Comey made that statement, Rep. Conaway (R-TX) asked how The Washington Post got the exact language Comey used. Comey said he didn’t know.
Chair David Nunes asked when the FBI decided Russians not only did not want Clinton to win but also preferred Trump. Nunes thought the intelligence community said in December that Russia did not prefer Trump. Comey said he had a different recollection.
Former deputy CIA director Clapper said there is no evidence of Trump or the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians but Comey and Rogers would not comment on it Monday.
One thing is obvious – General Flynn, a member of the Trump campaign, was surveilled. They just didn’t use 1970s technology to do it. Wiretapping went out with wires.
Comey would not confirm whether or not Trump or the campaign gave Russians the impression sanctions or other decisions favorable to Russia were on the table. Comey mostly revealed things that would put a cloud over Republicans, the administration, and the cabinet. Other concerns were no comment.
DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 were apparently directly tied to Russia but Wikileaks did not deal directly with Russia. That’s all Comey would confirm about the leaking of the DNC and Podesta emails.
The Real Question
There is no evidence to support President Trump’s tweets claiming President Obama ordered wiretapping, FBI Director Jim Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers both agreed. We all knew that going in.
Rep. Adam Schiff went further and accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia during the campaign.
Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy shot that down, noting that Schiff was not a fact witness, that all the fact witnesses, the people who would know, have said there is no evidence of collusion.
The didn’t end the question, Gowdy said. The real question was the felonious dissemination of information.
“I would go ahead and tell you just assume that unless I am dead wrong, there is no evidence to support President Obama wiretapping President Trump,” Gowdy continued. “But the analysis does not end there.” “You have the dissemination — the felonious dissemination of classified information that will jeopardize 320 million Americans, and I would love it if our friends in the mainstream media would focus on the leak as much as they did the wiretap tweet.”
Gowdy’s point was whether or not there were specific wiretaps ordered by Obama on Trump Tower before the election or other surveillance that picked up Trump or aides (two different questions, the first being the only question answered by Comey), that the dissemination of leaks was meant to harm and was illegal.
The leaks of U.S. citizens’ classified information have unlawfully appeared in the newspapers – possibly classified.
There was a question about reporters publishing it illegally. Comey thinks legalities regarding reporters publishing it is different in that they have certain protections, though the language of the law says otherwise. Reporters might not be in harm’s way despite the reading of the law.
Many People Have Access to Unmasked Names
Under questioning by Rep. Trey Gowdy, it is clear from Jim Comey’s comments that the White House doesn’t collect the information, therefore they can’t unmask it. They can ask for unmasked information. People in the White House might have the information about U.S. Citizens (like General Flynn) who have been unmasked.
Masking means to reveal the name of any U.S. person or persons involved in a communication with a foreign entity being surveilled.
Heads of the intelligence community and the DoJ can unmask according to Comey. NSA Head Mike Rogers said about 20 people at the NSA can unmask Americans on calls with foreign entities being wiretapped. It’s clear there are a lot more than 20 in the FBI alone.
Comey said people who had access are: heads of intelligence departments, Loretta Lynch and deputies like Sally Yates of the DoJ, and Susan Rice as National Security Advisor. He did not know if Ben Rhodes had access.
The Cloud Comey Cast Over the Administration
The testimony by the FBI Director was helpful to the Democrat narrative. Comey said Russia wanted Trump to win. We hear that the investigation is of the campaign, including the Trump campaign, and we won’t know when it’s complete. No falsehoods in the newspapers will be corrected and Comey has no obligation to correct them.
The Democrats were able to reveal every possible link to a Russian and a Republican during the hearings and, though none of it was confirmed, they have that baseless information out in public sphere. Many of the people they mentioned had little or no contact with the administration other than receiving ceae and desist orders.
The Ohio Rep. Turner asked Comey to declassify fake news stories. Comey said he can’t because then the stories that are accurate are confirmed indirectly.
In what seems to be unfortunate and inadvertent, the FBI Director cast a cloud over the Republican administration without one ounce of evidence being presented to which the left-wing media has already reacted. The CNN headline reads: Russia Wanted to Hurt US and Clinton, Help Trump. The NY Times is touting the erroneous Trump tweets.
How Did Newspapers Get the Info
There’s no explanation as to how the newspapers received the leaked, seemingly classified material, except for an unjustified leak backed by nefarious motives, including possible third parties. Comey would not confirm classified information was leaked.
Someone leaked the information and it was done for the wrong reasons. Comey confirmed there are wrong and right reports in the papers but he doesn’t want to compound the problem by explaining further.
Leaking classified information is a very serious crime punishable with up to ten years in prison but 702 works under different rules.
Comey won’t confirm he’s investigating that issue but he takes the claims very seriously.
An unauthorized leak of FISA (Not 702) would be taken very serious. Any leaks from overseas communications with foreign powers that also includes a U.S. citizen come under 702. The rules are very different.
During his testimony Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked FBI Director Comey who would have access to the leaked phone call transcript between General Michael Flynn and White House officials including Susan Rice and Barack Obama. Comey refused to answer.
Comey and Rogers would not comment on Clapper’s statement that there is no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Rep. Peter King tried to find out if they agree with Clapper but they refused to answer.
Rep. King asked about the sustained leaks. Comey said leaks have always been a problem but in the last 6 weeks or so, there are more alleged classified leaks and a lot are dead wrong. People are talking to reporters and it’s unusually active.
Comey was said to have presented the dossier to Trump and it was leaked within hours. King asked if that violated the law and if he’s investigating. Comey said in general, any unauthorized leak of documents is illegal. It’s often leaked by a “hop-out” – third parties and newspapers heard about it but heard wrong (telephone game). This is hard to investigate but it needs to be investigated and guilty parties need to go to jail.
With regards to the dossier, it was a small number of people involved. Comey would not comment by confirming a conversation but there are more people involved or told about it or briefed on it and those are the echoes that become a problem. Comey wouldn’t even confirm the dossier conversation occurred.
The livestream follows.
President Trump has involved himself in these hearings.
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017