FBI, NSA Chiefs To Break Silence Before House Intelligence Committee
4 hours ago
The heads of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency (NSA) are set to testify in a highly anticipated session before the committee in the House of Representatives that is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, scheduled to start on March 20, are expected to produce the first public comments by FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Mike Rogers into possible links between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign. The hearings begin at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C.
Observers are also awaiting any comments the FBI chief might make about Trump's claims that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had his phones tapped during the election campaign.
The hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, scheduled to start March 20, will be the first open sessions on Russia's involvement in the U.S. presidential campaign.
National Security Agency director Mike Rogers is also scheduled to appear.
Over its first two months in office, the Trump administration has been dogged by intelligence reports of Russia's alleged meddling in the campaign and by reported FBI investigations of Trump associates.
In January, U.S. intelligence agencies released a report saying they had assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an "influence campaign" aimed to use hacks, leaks, and other methods to undermine faith in the U.S. electoral system and denigrate Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The report said that Russia developed a clear preference for Trump.
Russia has denied any attempts to sway the November 8 vote and Trump has rejected suggestions that he or his campaign had improper contacts with Russian officials.
"The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign," Trump said on Twitter on March 20.
"The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information," he said in a subsequent tweet. "Must find leaker now!"
Trump forced Michael Flynn out as national security adviser in February after it was revealed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his conversations in December with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
That was followed by accusations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions misled senators by saying during his confirmation hearing that he did not meet with any Russian government official during the campaign.
Sessions later admitted meeting with Russia's ambassador to the United States at least twice, and has recused himself from the investigation.
In a Twitter post on March 4, Trump said Obama ordered wiretaps of his New York offices.
James Clapper, Obama's top intelligence official, has said publicly that the claims are false, as has a spokesman for Obama.
The White House has sought to change the allegation since then, saying that Trump was referring more broadly to surveillance when he made the wiretap claim.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, AP, The Hill, and The Washington Post
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