FBI Director James Comey (left) testifies in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday regarding Russian hacking during the 2016 election.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
In a rare move, the FBI confirmed that it is investigating whether Russian hackers had any links to President Trump’s election team.
Citing “unusual circumstances,” FBI Director James Comey said that the bureau is looking into whether Donald Trump’s campaign worked with Russian officials during the 2016 election.
“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey testified at a House committee hearing on Monday. “That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination with the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
These are unusual circumstances indeed.
Worries about Russian hacks plagued the US presidential election and its aftermath, with US intelligence agencies accusing Russia of meddling in the race for the White House. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating how the cyberattacks happened and how to protect the nation’s democracy from interference in the future.
The breaches included hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta. Comey had earlier testified before the House Intelligence committee concerning Russian hacks during the election, revealing there were no attacks against the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee.
During the campaign, Donald Trumppublicly urged Russia to help find Clinton’s emails. Members of the Trump administration, including attorney generalJeff Sessions, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have also faced controversy for ties to Russian officials.
The Obama administration in late December retaliated against Russia, imposing sanctions over the cyberattacks even as Russian officials continue to deny any involvement in the hacks. Russia’s relationships with the US has been on shaky ground since.
Comey revealed Monday that the FBI has been investigating Russian influence on the 2016 election since last July, when hackers apparently first infiltrated the DNC. It remains unclear when the investigation will end.
During the hearing, Comey also rebutted President Trump’s tweets that the Obama administration ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower during the campaign. That echoed House Intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes and the Justice Department’s findings.
“I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said. The National Security Agency director Michael Rogers also denied Trump’s claims during the hearing.