The FBI Strikes Down Trump's Hours-Old Tweet About The Russia Investigation
The White House today is nothing if not unique, especially when it comes to the president's use of social media. In what was very likely a first in American politics, the FBI refuted a tweet from President Donald Trump's account in a live House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election. The POTUS account claimed that the FBI and NSA confirmed that Russia did not influence the American electoral process, which is not what either FBI Director James Comey or NSA Director Mike Rogers said.
The official POTUS Twitter account (which, it is important to note, is run by Dan Scavino, the administration's director of social media, not Trump himself) tweeted partway into the hearing that "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process." Accompanying the tweet was a clip of Rogers being asked if the NSA had any evidence that Russians or those working with the Russians changed vote tallies in certain states. Rogers replied that he did not have evidence of that happening, and specified that the NSA focuses on foreign intelligence, rather than domestic, and therefore they might not the agency best equipped to handle that specific question. Comey was asked the same question and he responded with a "no."
However, Rogers and Comey's responses saying that they did not have any evidence of Russians or those working on behalf of Russia changing votes is not the same thing as confirming Russia did not interfere with the electoral process.
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, brought up the president's tweet, reading it aloud during the hearing, and asked if it was accurate. Rogers confirmed that they have not done an investigation into Russia's alleged interference in our political process, saying, "the U.S. Intelligence community does not do analysis or reporting on U.S. political process or U.S. public opinion."
To further clarify what exactly was meant, Comey summarized what he and Rogers had said about Russia interfering with the political process: "We offer no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact, because it's never something that we looked at." And in directly addressing what Trump's Twitter account had sent out, he said, "It was not our intention to say that today because we don't have any information on that subject."
It's rather puzzling that the official POTUS Twitter account could be so incorrect in interpreting what was actually being said during the House Intelligence Committee hearing about Russia. It's possible that Scavino heard another statement during the hearing and interpreted it as meaning that Comey and Rogers were saying that there was no Russian involvement in the electoral process. However, as they clarified, that is not what they meant to say, and for the official POTUS Twitter account to send that information out is irresponsible.