The FBI is investigating ties between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump and their potential coordination to influence last year’s election, confirmed FBI Director James Comey on Monday.
Speaking to congress about the possible connections between Russia and Trump’s campaign, Comey acknowledged that while the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, they make exceptions in cases of extreme public interest.
“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” said Comey to the House Intelligence Committee.
The committee recently rebuked statements made by Trump that the previous president Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during last year’s election. However, they also said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and associates are not ruled out.
Prior to Comey’s congressional hearing, Trump accused Democrats of inventing the connections between himself and Russia, arguing Congress and the FBI should look into the constant anonymous leaks from within his administration and the intelligence community.
He also suggested, without providing any evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was the one in contact with Russia, and had shut down a federal investigation. The intelligence community has not acknowledged this scenario as a possibility, and instead assert Russian hackers accessed the Democratic party’s computers in an effort to aid Trump during the election.
“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!”, Trump tweeted Monday morning.
Allegations and investigations over the potential connection between Trump and Russia have cast a shadow over his fledgling administration, much to the frustration of the president and his staff.
The committee also revealed there was circumstantial evidence to suggest collusion between Russian agents and American citizens in order to influence the election.
“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” said Democratic congressman from California Adam Schiff on NBC. “There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee will also have a hearing on the connections between Trump and Russia later this month.
Comey is being much more forthcoming than during the election, when he declined to comment on whether or not the FBI was investigation potential collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign, the FBI’s regular practice regarding ongoing investigations.
However, he did break this protocol to discuss a renewed investigation into Trump’s rival candidate Hilary Clinton and her use of private email servers while working as Secretary of State.