All eyes were on Capitol Hill Monday for the House Intelligence Committee testimony of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike Rogers regarding the investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump.
According to The Washington Post, Comey stated that his agency had “no information” to support the allegations lodged by Trump against former President Barack Obama that his administration had ordered surveillance on Trump Tower, but did confirm that the investigation into alleged Russian interference had included some members of Trump’s campaign.
Of particular focus during the hearing was the question of who had leaked sensitive information from the investigation to the media, such as the name of former NSA Director Mike Flynn and the fact that he was included in a transcript of a phone call with the Russian ambassador, a topic honed in on by Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.
Gowdy asked Comey specifically if he could name who in the intelligence community would have had access to that information and been able to share it with Obama, but Comey declined to provide specific names.
Trying a different tack, Gowdy asked Comey, “Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?”
“I’m not going to get into either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had with the president, so I can’t answer that,” Comey replied, neither confirming nor denying the premise of Gowdy’s question.
The president must have been watching, because he quickly responded as only he has a tendency to do, via his official POTUS Twitter account, posting a clip of Comey’s answer with a caption that read, “FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.”
FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia. pic.twitter.com/cUZ5KgBSYP
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
Many of Comey’s replies to the plethora of questions from the other committee members were similarly vague, but Democrats and the media will be sure to focus on the confirmation that Trump’s campaign had been under investigation, though the denial of any ordered surveillance would seem to undercut not only Trump’s allegation against Obama, but also months of reporting from a variety of mainstream media outlets that Trump had based his accusation on.
Regardless of whether Trump was right or wrong in his assessment of Comey’s response to Gowdy’s question, the takeaway was that once again Trump had manipulated the media by exposing their narrative as false while injecting his own talking points into the coverage.
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