The chairman of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Monday denied a claim from President Donald Trump that there had been a wiretap on his Trump Tower in New York, but said it was possible other surveillance was used against the Republican.
Republican Representative Devin Nunes also told a hearing that the committee had seen no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
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 US election.
Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, made clear that their investigation of Moscow and November's US elections could last for months.
No Information to Substantiate President Trump’s Claims: FBI Director
FBI Director James Comey said that the FBI and Justice Department have no information to substantiate President Donald Trump's claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him before the election.
Comey said no individual can order surveillance of an American and that courts grant this permission only after a rigorous application process.
Comey was testifying before the House intelligence committee. Comey said the Justice Department also asked him to share with the committee that the answer also applies to the Justice Department and its various components. The Justice Department oversees the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
British Intelligence Was Never Involved: NSA
Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, on Monday that the British intelligence community was never asked to conduct electronic surveillance on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.
Comey and Rogers further said they have no evidence or intelligence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in key states during last year's presidential election.
“Terrible! Obama Had My ‘Wires Tapped’”
Trump created a controversy in early March when he tweeted that former president Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Nunes opened the hearing by saying,
Let me be clear: We know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.
Other congressional committees also are investigating the possible Russian connection, mostly behind closed doors. Still, amid a furore over whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential race on Trump's behalf, lawmakers said they would make public as much of their investigations as possible.
Hours before the hearing, Trump tweeted that former Director of National Intelligence "James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus (president of the United States) colluded with Russia," and said Democrats were pushing the inquiry because the party's election losses.
Taking up an issue that Trump has frequently complained about, Nunes said numerous current and former US officials had leaked potentially classified information, and that his committee intended to identify them to bring them to justice.
Trump has often rallied against leaks to the media from inside his administration.
(With inputs from media agencies.)