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Key moments from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia hearing

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 election on March 20, 2017, in Washington. | Getty

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday held a much-anticipated hearing featuring FBI Director James Comey’s first Capitol Hill appearance since President Donald Trump’s bombshell allegations that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower.

The gathering was also the first public hearing in the Intelligence Committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged interference during the presidential race, and whether the Trump campaign had any ties to Moscow during that time. U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Kremlin deployed its hackers in an attempt to destabilize the 2016 election, and eventually to try and help Trump win the White House.

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Below are highlights from the hearing, which included testimony from Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers.

  • Comey confirmed the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Comey described it as a “counterintelligence investigation,” but said it will “also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.” He noted that the FBI usually does not comment on active counterintelligence investigations, but said he was authorized to do so in this case because of the extraordinary public interest.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the panel’s top Democrat, delivered an unusually long, 15-minute opening statement where he walked through a thorough timeline of Russia’s digital meddling campaign against the U.S., going back to 2015. He then detailed the various public reports of meetings between Russian officials and Trump aides. “It is possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?” Schiff asked. “Yes.” But, he added, “it is also possible, maybe more than possible that they are not coincidental not disconnect and not unrelated.” Lawmakers, Schiff said, “owe it to the country to find out.”
  • Speaking directly to Comey, Schiff asked for the cooperation and help of his department. “What you see on the dais … is all we have to commit to this investigation,” he said. Schiff has expressed concerns about the FBI withholding information on its Russia probes from Capitol Hill, but recently said the relationship is improving. “We cannot do this work along and nor should we,” Schiff said. The California lawmaker then renewed his call for an independent commission to help investigate Russia’s actions in the 2016 election, similar to the outside, bipartisan commission that probed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Such a panel would serve as “an important complement to our efforts,” Schiff said.
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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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