In November, FBI director James Comey was a favorite of Donald Trump’s campaign to become the 45th president of the United States, an effort that proved successful in part because of Comey’s investigation of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Monday’s announcement from Comey isn’t likely to be received as warmly by the White House.
The director issued another stinging rebuke against Trump’s claims of wiretapping on the part of former president Barack Obama on Monday, announcing in a meeting with the House Intelligence Committee that neither his department nor the Justice Department has any information to support Trump’s allegations.
Trump claimed two weeks ago via Twitter that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower in the months leading up to the election, a claim that he made with no evidence that led to widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle. CNN reported that James Comey made a direct counter to that claim on Monday by stating that no president could order a wiretapping against anyone, despite Donald Trump‘s claims to the contrary.
It’s another setback for Trump in a story that has resulted in universally negative coverage for his presidency, as both Democrats and Republicans have either criticized his claims, dismissed them out of hand or demanded that the president either provide evidence for his statements or back off.
Comey also confirmed that the FBI is investigating whether the Russians had any involvement in interference with the 2016 election that produced Trump’s presidency. His opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee noted that the FBI normally does not comment publicly on the existence of ongoing investigations, but the bureau had decided that it was in the public’s interest to know that this investigation into potential Russian interference is ongoing because of its nature.
The news that an investigation is underway is not likely to sit well with Trump, who has consistently referred to potential collusion between his campaign and Russia as “fake news”. Just before 1 p.m. on Monday, the president released a video on his Twitter feed claiming that the NSA and FBI had told Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process.
However, the video merely shows James Comey and Admiral Michael Rogers of the NSA stating that they do not have evidence that the Russians changed votes in Michigan, hardly a claim that Russia had no influence on the electoral process at all. Trump’s timing allowed the video to make its way to the attention of the House and Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who directly asked Comey if he meant what the president claimed. Comey denied the president’s interpretation of events, claiming his department has not yet concluded to what level the Russians influenced the election, if any.
In the wake of James Comey’s announcement, it remains to be seen whether Trump will continue to pursue the wiretap allegations. For their part, Democrats jumped on the news, with Senate Minority Leader calling on Trump to apologize to both Obama and the American people.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Comey’s statement? Do you believe the FBI or the president? What do you expect from the investigation? Sound off in the comments and share this article!
By Dan Angell
Photo Courtesy FBI