The head of the FBI has publicly challenged the US president by denying the Republican’s claim that former president Barack Obama wiretapped his 2016 election campaign.
James Comey went on to confirm his agency has launched a criminal investigation into any collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Comey said that, since last July, the FBI has been investigating possible Russian government efforts to interfere in the election, including any links 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 judgement on whether the efforts influenced the outcome.
Comey told a congressional hearing he has seen no evidence to support a claim by Trump that Obama had wiretapped his campaign headquarters in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
“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 told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing.
What is the committee investigating?
Accusations that Russia tried to influence the election mostly by hacking Democratic operatives’ emails and releasing embarrassing information.
Russia denies the allegations.
What was the Obama allegation?
Trump created a controversy in early March when he tweeted that Obama had wiretapped his campaign.
He gave no evidence for his claim.
Has there been a response from Trump?
Yes. 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.
“When these people, both sides of the aisle, Obama appointees, elected Democrats, elected republicans, say ‘no evidence suggested’, at some point it’s not just about me, it’s about you. Take no for an answer,” Spicer told reporters at the White House.
Spicer said he was not aware of any White House official being under investigation by the FBI.
He also declined to call communications between the White House and Great Britain over accusations Britain’s GCHQ agency was behind the surveillance an apology.
However, Spicer did not back down from the Obama wiretap claims.
What about GCHQ?
Last week, Trump’s spokesman cited a media report that Britain’s GCHQ agency was behind the surveillance, prompting outrage and ridicule in the UK.
The head of the US National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, told Monday’s hearing that the allegation was not true and had strained relations with London.
“I think it clearly frustrates a key ally of ours,” Rogers said.