FBI Director Debunks Trump Wiretap Claim, Confirms Russia Probe
March 21, 2017
FBI Director James Comey has debunked President Donald Trump's explosive
claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him in the weeks
before last year's presidential election.
At a hearing before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee
Monday, Comey also confirmed that his agency is investigating whether
Trump campaign aides criminally colluded with Russian interests to help
"I have no information that supports [Trump's] tweets" claiming that
Obama eavesdropped on him at his Trump Tower headquarters in New York,
Despite that statement, White House spokesman Sean Spicer later said
Trump will not withdraw his wiretapping allegation. "We've started a
hearing, it's still ongoing," Spicer said. "There's a lot of areas that
still need to be covered. There's a lot of information that still needs
to be discussed."
Comey told the panel that because the counterintelligence investigation
of Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election is classified, "I
cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are
examining." He said congressional leaders have been briefed behind
But Comey said he has been authorized by the Justice Department to
confirm that the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe "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."
Hours earlier, Trump derided any suggestion that his campaign colluded
with Russian interests to help him win the White House, saying it was an
excuse "made up" by Democrats for losing the election.
In a string of messages on his Twitter account, Trump said James
Clapper, the director of national intelligence under Obama, and others
"stated that there is no evidence" that he joined with Moscow to help
his cause. "This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!" Trump
Two months into his presidency, Trump said Democrats "made up and pushed
the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign," adding
that the campaign of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was
presumed to have a "big advantage" in the country's Electoral College
that determined the outcome, and still lost.
In other tweets Monday, Trump said "the real story that Congress, the
FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified
information. Must find leaker now!" Trump has often complained about
leaks of information that have cast a wide shadow on his performance
The White House last week suggested that Obama may have asked the
British intelligence agency to wiretap Trump. But Admiral Michael
Rogers, the director of the country's National Security Agency, told the
House panel that did not occur and that the U.S. and Britain do not spy
on each other under a long-standing agreement between the allies.
Comey said that Obama could not have unilaterally ordered a wiretap on a
U.S. citizen such as Trump and would have had to secure a court order to
do so, which did not happen.
For more than two weeks, Trump has refused to back down on his
wiretapping allegation, even as a string of officials, including House
Speaker Paul Ryan and the top Republican and Democratic lawmakers on
both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, have said there is no
evidence to support the president's March 4 claims made in a series of
Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House panel,
acknowledged at the outset of the hearing that there was no evidence of
the Obama wiretap on Trump, which Comey later confirmed under
questioning from the committee's top Democrat, Congressman Adam Schiff.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oversees the Justice Department and
was a staunch Trump supporter during the presidential campaign, said
last week he never gave the president any reason to believe he was
wiretapped in the weeks before the November election.
Last week, the leaders of of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner, said in a joint
statement, "Based on the information available to us, we see no
indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any
element of the United States government, either before or after Election
wiretapping allegation is part of broader investigations by the FBI and
lawmakers into the conclusion by the country's intelligence community
that Russia meddled in the election to help Trump defeat Clinton.
U.S. investigators say Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the
hacking into the computers at the Democratic National Committee. The
anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks subsequently released thousands of emails
from the files of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta in the month
before the election, showing embarrassing, behind-the-scenes efforts of
Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the party's presidential
But the Trump administration has rebuffed any contention that its
campaign aides colluded with Russian officials in that cyberattack.
Nunes, the House Intelligence panel chairman, also said he has not seen
signs of collusion.