FBI confirms inquiry into Trump/Russia links, rejects wiretapping claims

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI director confirms that the agency is looking into possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of Donald Trump.              

It's part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year's presidential election.              

Director James Comey spoke at the start of a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and the Trump campaign.              

National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers told the panel that the intelligence community stands behind its January assessment that it is highly confident Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of electing Trump.              

In a Monday morning tweet, Trump blamed Democrats for the investigation into his contacts and said the House intelligence committee should be focus on investigating leaks.

Comey also become the latest government official to reject President Donald Trump's claims that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama.              

Testifying to a House panel today, Comey said, "I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI."              

Comey says no individual can order surveillance of an American. He says courts grant this permission after a rigorous application process.              

He testified along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, who also disputed allegations that surfaced last year that British intelligence services were involved in wiretapping of Trump.              

Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred to unsubstantiated allegations made by a Fox News analyst that GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, had helped Obama wiretap Trump. The British intelligence agency flatly denied it happened.

The White House is distancing itself from two former senior members of Donald Trump's team, amid an FBI investigation into possible connections between Trump "associates" and Russia.              

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday referred to Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as a "volunteer of the campaign." And he said Paul Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign leading up to the Republican National Convention, "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time."              

Flynn resigned from the White House last month after he was found to have misled senior members of the administration about his contacts with Russia's top diplomat to the U.S.              

Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign last summer following allegations of contacts with Russian intelligence officials.

© 2017 Associated Press


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