WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey Monday offered the most definitive repudiation yet that the Obama administration wiretapped President Trump’s New York offices in advance of the 2016 elections.
“The FBI and the Justice Department have no information to support’’ Trump’s wiretap assertions, Comey said.
Comey, appearing before the House Intelligence Committee along with National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, also confirmed for the first time publicly that the FBI was investigating Russian interference , including communications between Trump associates and Russian officials.
“We’re investigating whether there was any coordination between people associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians,” Comey said, declining to elaborate on whether any such evidence has been uncovered. Comey did acknowledge, however, that the Russians appeared to use a third party–a “cutout”–in its communications with WikiLeaks, which published internal communications in the hack of the Democratic National Committee.
Yet as part of the overall inquiry, Comey and Rogers both said they knew of no evidence that any actual votes during the 2016 election were changed as a result of Russian interference.
Although Trump, as recently as Friday, has continued to defend the extraordinary wiretap allegations that Trump Tower was wiretapped in advance of the 2016 elections, Comey’s denial comes after House and Senate leaders have flatly denied such surveillance existed in bipartisan joint statements, leaving the White House virtually alone in asserting such claims.
“Let me be clear,” House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Monday, “we know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”
Nunes also said Monday that there is “no evidence to date that officials from any campaign conspired with Russian agents.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the House committee’s ranking Democrat, called Trump’s claims ”slanderous,” adding that “we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign.”
Schiff said that the ongoing effort determing the scope of Russian interference in the U.S. election system represented the most important challenge for U.S. intelligence.
“The stakes are nothing lesss than the future of liberal democracy,” Schiff said.