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FBI head confirms Russia election probe, says Moscow backed Trump

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FBI head confirms Russia election probe, says Moscow backed Trump

By Patricia Zengerle and Warren Strobel

REUTERS
 

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U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed for the first time that the bureau is investigating possible ties between Republican Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia as Moscow sought to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

 

Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, made clear that their investigation of Moscow and November's U.S. elections could last for months.

 

Appearing before a congressional panel, Comey also publicly challenged Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his 2016 campaign headquarters in Manhattan's Trump Tower.

 

The two officials spent 5-1/2 hours before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in testimony marked by starkly partisan divides between the panel's majority Republicans and Democrats.

 

Comey refused to back away from his claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not simply want Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to lose the election; he wanted Donald Trump to win.

 

Trump created a controversy in early March when he tweeted without giving evidence that Obama had wiretapped his campaign while the businessman competed against Clinton.

 

"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," Comey said.

 

The committee is one of several in the U.S. Congress investigating whether Russia tried to influence the election, mostly by hacking Democratic operatives' emails and releasing embarrassing information. Russia denies the allegations.

 

Comey confirmed the FBI has been investigating since July possible Russian efforts to interfere in the election, including any cooperation between Trump's campaign and Moscow. He said that while the Russian government wanted to hurt Clinton's campaign and help Trump's, intelligence agencies made no judgment on whether the efforts influenced the outcome.

 

Comey gave no details of the classified investigation and said the fact that it exists does not mean charges would be filed.

 

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia tried to help Trump by hacking leading Democrats.

 

PUTIN'S PREFERENCE

 

"I think that was a fairly easy judgment for the (intelligence) community," he said. "Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much."

 

Asked about Comey, White House spokesman Sean Spicer read a series of quotes from officials - some from the Obama administration - who have said they have seen no signs of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

 

In a tweet before the hearing, Trump wrote: "The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a

terrible campaign."

 

Spicer said he was unaware of any White House official being under investigation by the FBI.

 

Trump has frequently urged better relations with Russia, which has been at odds with the United States over Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.

 

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, detailed activities by Trump associates with ties to Russia, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who was forced out as Trump's national security adviser after talking to the Russian ambassador and then misrepresenting the conversation to Vice President Mike Pence.

 

"Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible," Schiff said. "But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated."

 

NO 'PHYSICAL' WIRETAP

 

Trump's March 4 tweet about wiretapping pulled attention away from the claims of Russian election interference. He issued his tweet two days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who met with Russia's U.S. ambassador at least twice last year, said he would recuse himself from any investigation of the matter.

 

The White House has contended in recent days that Trump's claim of wiretapping referred to general surveillance of the campaign. The White House has not provided evidence of surveillance of any kind.

 

"Let me be clear: We know there was not a physical wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it's still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates," said Representative Devin Nunes, the committee's Republican chairman.

 

Last week, Trump's spokesman cited a media report that British intelligence was behind the surveillance, prompting ridicule in London.

 

Rogers said the allegation had strained relations with London. "I think it clearly frustrates a key ally of ours," Rogers said.

 

Comey warned that Russia would attempt to influence the next U.S. presidential election in 2020 and perhaps congressional elections next year.

 

"They'll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018. And one of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful because they introduced chaos and division and discord and sowed doubt about the nature of this amazing country of ours and our democratic process," he said.

 

The rare open congressional intelligence committee hearing revealed a stark partisan divide. Republicans, who hold a majority of seats on the panel, largely concentrated their questions on leaks of classified information to the media - a concern that Trump frequently mentions.

 

Democrats sought to highlight links between the Republican's campaign and Moscow and to shoot down Trump's wiretapping claim.

 

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by Alistair Bell and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott and Cynthia Osterman)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-21

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6 minutes ago, craigt3365 said:

A few interesting snippets from the above article:

It will be interesting to see where this all leads.

        Republican Comey is partisan but is objective enough to check into some leads - even though his boss (Trump) could fire him at any moment.  Comey is dragging his feet somewhat.  He acts very reluctant to announce any revelations.  Americans deserve to know whether Trump and his associates did and continue to break laws.   Comey is more concerned about avoiding embarrassment for Trumpsters.

 

         Republican politicians are worse, if that's possible.  They're not just dragging their feet, they're dragging their entire bodies while clutching at the furniture and drapes.  

 

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Could any of this lead to impeachment or is it just smoke and mirrors and end up in a whitewash perhaps ?

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1 hour ago, craigt3365 said:
Quote

Comey refused to back away from his claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not simply want Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to lose the election; he wanted Donald Trump to win.

 

It was a two horse race! If you flip a coin and bet on heads you equally want to see heads, as not see tails.

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16 minutes ago, Pinot said:

Same people who work tirelessly to prevent people from voting are working to close the leaks that are exposing Putin's involvement in the election. The same people who are trying to give tax breaks to the rich and take healthcare from the poor. The same people who are trying to poison the air and water so their backers can increase their profit. Always the same people. 

 

Always. 

It's a conspiracy... and it's the same people doing it.

ALWAYS.  

Today the USA and Russia...

Tomorrow...THE WORLD. 

 

Run, Run RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!!

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2 hours ago, esprit said:

Could any of this lead to impeachment or is it just smoke and mirrors and end up in a whitewash perhaps ?

I think those wheels are already in motion. The Republican Establishment hate Trump and would love to have Pence as President. They will let the Democrats make  a lot of noise then reluctantly go along with impeachment. They remember how they got slaughtered in the 1974 mid-terms and hope to dump Trump with enough time for the public  to move on from this calamity.

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45 minutes ago, craigt3365 said:

Wow.  Yes, quite the revelation.  Do you think this is true?  If so, Trump's in hot water.

Come on, I've got no use for Trump but that story implicates him in nothing. 

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12 minutes ago, pegman said:

Come on, I've got no use for Trump but that story implicates him in nothing. 

Right.  Other than his connections to a wealthy Russian who's looking to license the Trump name and build a big hotel.  From the article:

Quote

 

In an exclusive interview with FORBES, Emin Agalarov — a Russian pop singer, real estate mogul and son of one of the country’s richest people — described an ongoing relationship with the Trump family, including post-election contact with the president himself.

 

Among Agalarov’s most striking claims: that he and his billionaire developer father, Aras, had plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would now likely be under construction had Trump not run for office; that he has maintained contact with the Trump family since the election, and has exchanged messages with Donald Trump Jr. as recently as January; and that President Trump himself sent a handwritten note to the Agalarovs in November after they congratulated him on his victory.

 

 

Unethical and possibly illegal. 

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I would have to ask the same as esprit there.

I am not a political brain, and i rarely comment on political topics.

But my question is, that should it be proved, beyond doubt, that the Russians had a hand in Trump's victory, what would happen? If it can be proved that he knew about this, would this not imply treason.Trump is not a popular president with some people in the U S A.And the only other president that was punished, that i can remember, was Nixon.I take no notice about Americas political comings and goings, but it seems to me that this man tends to say a lot of things, that he pulls out the air, and has accused the Obama of wire tapping telephones, without a single shred of evidence.

He seems to be made of different stuff than other presidents. 

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1 hour ago, pegman said:

Come on, I've got no use for Trump but that story implicates him in nothing. 

spot on, and so what if someone, in some country, "backs" a candidate; don't think thats a criminal act, unless collusion can be proven, for instance, collusion by trump and some russian entity, need cold hard evidence to prove that. Insofar as supporting or "backing" a candidate, the candidate would have to be knowingly involved, acteus and mens rea needs to be present and proven. Not gonna happen.

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By the way, during yesterday's hearing, US the members accused, quite openly, Trump and his surrogates being brought by Putin.. I think the start of Trumps real freefall has started.

 

FBI and NSA confirmed that Trump lied and can not be trusted. Democrats soon demand direct investigations on Trump himself and republicans will eventually join in. 

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25 minutes ago, keep it real said:

spot on, and so what if someone, in some country, "backs" a candidate; don't think thats a criminal act, unless collusion can be proven, for instance, collusion by trump and some russian entity, need cold hard evidence to prove that. Insofar as supporting or "backing" a candidate, the candidate would have to be knowingly involved, acteus and mens rea needs to be present and proven. Not gonna happen.

They are looking in to it:

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/president-trump-faces-his-hardest-truth-he-was-wrong/ar-BByunSW?ocid=spartandhp

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This will boil down to what did he know and when did he know and was there any cover up. It will follow the same pattern as the Watergate investigation. If there is a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia in which Russia manipulated the elction and Trump or his team knew it-  Trump is gone. He will be impeached and convicted and Pence will be President.

All the intelligence agencies know what happened but they need to get it to the FBI. Also, at some point- someone will talk and go to the newspapers and the story will be broken wide open. Trump is not only disliked by the Democrats but also by his own party. If this goes to mid term- the Democrats will gain control of the Senate and make huge gains in the house.

This story is not going away- it's like a dog with a bone-

 

 

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7 hours ago, webfact said:

Comey refused to back away from his claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not simply want Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to lose the election; he wanted Donald Trump to win.

Well glad to have established that where do you go from here? Oh you have to consult with president OK we understand. 

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All BS of one form or another.

 

foreign countries have always tried to influence the outcomes of elections, appointments or coronations in other countries.... it used to be called "court intrigue"

 

in more modern times, you need look no further than the CIA, to see the USA actively interfering in the operation of other countries affairs.

 

so what.... it's what you do seek a favorable outcome to meet your own ends.

 

more interesting, is the unprofessional BS tweeting of wiretapping, which they seem to be backpeddling on, like a rowing boat heading for niagra falls.

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7 hours ago, esprit said:

Could any of this lead to impeachment or is it just smoke and mirrors and end up in a whitewash perhaps ?

Smoke definitely and fire is pretty much a certainty too.  However enough fire to get him impeached?  Unfortunately I don't think so unless they can come up with something substantial.  I live in hope but...

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BANGKOK 28 March 2017 03:26
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