The Transcript Of James Comey’s Hearing Shows How Unprecedented This Is
After months of allegations about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence committee on Monday alongside NSA director Mike Rogers to officially set at least some of the record straight. You can read the transcript of Comey's testimony, which is an interesting insight into exactly what the FBI is willing to go on the record to confirm, and how the government is looking into Russia's possible efforts to intervene in American democracy. You can read the whole transcript here.
In his opening statements, Comey prefaced his testimony by reminding the committee as well as the public that the FBI does not normally confirm ongoing investigations. However, this is not a normal situation. Then he came right out and confirmed that the FBI is investigating Russian interference in the election and any links within the Trump administration, saying:
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.
Because it is an open ongoing investigation and is classified, I cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are examining.
While this statement leads to many questions about how large the investigation is, who the FBI is talking to, and what the potential findings are, we'll unfortunately have to wait until the inquiry has concluded for answers.
While the transcript itself is a bit daunting, it is an interesting read to get a feel for some of the things that the House Intelligence Committee is looking at and what the NSA and FBI are and are not able to talk about.
Another notable moment from the testimony came when Comey officially rejected Trump's claim that Obama had wiretapped him during the course of the election. Comey specifically said that there was no evidence to support Trump's wiretapping allegation:
With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets.
It is important that we recognize the gravity of the situation when the director of the FBI decides to go on record on these situations. Although matters of national security are of the utmost importance when dealing with classified situations, it is helpful for the public to be aware of these happenings considering the allegations that have been made already.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the investigations unfold, and to see how America will need to adjust its relationship with and protections against Russian interference with our democracy in the future.