What to Expect When Comey Meets With the House Intelligence Committee
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTMARCH 20, 2017
James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on encryption and privacy in Washington in 2016. He has shown a willingness to be more forthcoming publicly than most government officials. Credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
Washington once again will be watching on Monday to see how far James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, will go in discussing the sensitive investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee have summoned Mr. Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. as the panel tries to respond to President Trump’s insistence that President Barack Obama had him wiretapped at Trump Tower during the campaign.
The panel — which is leading an investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election — also wants to press Mr. Comey and Admiral Rogers to answer questions about what they have found in the course of the federal investigation into connections between Mr. Trump’s associates and any contacts they may have had with Russia.
Here’s how the hearing may play out:
Wiretap? What Wiretap?
In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s Twitter storm three weeks ago in which he accused Mr. Obama of wiretapping him, Mr. Comey pushed senior Justice Department officials to publicly reject Mr. Trump’s claim, since Mr. Comey believed that Mr. Trump had falsely insinuated that the F.B.I. had broken the law. But Justice Department officials declined to go along with his request.
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Mr. Comey will be in a tricky spot as he tries to navigate questions about the continuing investigation. In January, Mr. Comey said he “would never comment on investigations — whether we have one or not — in an open forum like this” when asked whether the bureau had investigated links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers who have been briefed in classified settings by Mr. Comey have said there is no evidence that Mr. Obama had Mr. Trump wiretapped.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment on what Mr. Comey will say on Monday. But our guess is that Mr. Comey will answer the question about the wiretap, saying that it does not exist. Discussing something publicly that doesn’t exist is much easier than talking openly about classified information.
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