In a break with protocol, the director of the FBI has confirmed the existence of an ongoing investigation into the ties between Pres Trump and Russia during US election.
FBI director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI is investigating Russia's interference in the presidential election and any ties to Donald Trump's campaigns, but cautioned that no conclusions should be drawn.
Comey noted that the FBI is not in the practice of confirming ongoing investigations, but in the "public interest" had decided to break protocol and confirm the probe.
The committee is looking into Russian meddling and also allegations by Trump that former President Obama "wiretapped" Trump Tower and his campaign.
Democrats and Republicans have roundly dismissed Trump's claims about Obama, noting that there was no evidence to support them. Over the weekend Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., reiterated that stance. and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Meet the Press on Sunday, "I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the president said was just patently false, and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our German allies."
But Nunes also said he saw no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the election. "I'll give you a very simple answer: No," he said during the Fox report.
Trump took to Twitter early Monday morning to dismiss the claims. "James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!" he tweeted early Monday, claiming that the Democrats advanced the Russian narrative "as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!"
The Trump administration has come under fire after several members have been found to have ties to Russia after claiming otherwise. After revelations that then acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates warned the White House in late January that Michael Flynn had misrepresented the content of his calls with a Russian diplomat and could be vulnerable to blackmail, Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor in mid-February.
Speculation had long swirled that Flynn discussed sanctions leveled against Russia by former President Barack Obama for its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, but Flynn denied wrongdoing and the White House stood behind the former three-star general, until the Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, revealed Yates was so concerned that Flynn might have been compromised she contacted the White House. Yates was fired by President Donald Trump shortly thereafter for not enforcing the president's controversial immigration ban.
When rumors first surfaced that Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Vice President Mike Pence said the National Security Advisor had assured him that the calls were innocuous, including well wishes for Christmas.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said he'd apologized to both the president and vice president and claimed to have "inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information” about the calls.
Russian operatives were believed to have hacked the Democratic National Committee last year and a steady stream of emails from Hillary Clinton and those affiliated with her campaign by WikiLeaks to cause damage to her campaign.
While Nunes said there was no evidence of collusion, Schiff said Sunday, that “there is circumstantial evidence of collusion. There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that's where we begin the investigation."