Politics

FBI, Intel Officials To Testify In Trump-Russia Probe

| by Ray Brown

The House Intelligence Committee has asked FBI Director James Comey and top intelligence officials under former President Barack Obama to testify in its investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In addition to Comey, the House Intelligence Committee asked National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and two executives from cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Inc to testify at the March 20 hearing, reported Bloomberg.

CrowdStrike is the company that first found evidence that suggested hackers from Russia were behind the Democratic National Committee email hacks.

As politicians continue to investigate whether the  Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to undermine Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign, Democrats have complained that Comey has not been forthcoming with the House investigation.

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"The first obstacle we met was the FBI director’s unwillingness to answer questions," said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, reported Bloomberg.

The U.S. Senate has also called on former British spy Christopher Steele to testify. Steele is the author of the dossier on President Donald Trump that included unsubstantiated but lurid and controversial claims that the president has business and personal dealings in Russia before the 2016 presidential campaign and that the Russian government was using that information to blackmail him.

Steele was initially hired by a wealthy Republican donor who opposed Trump to conduct opposition research on the then-candidate, reported The New York Times.

The BBC reported that the opposition research was done for former Republican candidate Jeb Bush, but Bush officials denied that report, according to The Daily Caller.

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Whatever the initial reason for the dossier, the Independent reported that Steele is unlikely to travel to the U.S. to testify. But it is still possible that Democrat officials meet Steele in the U.S. or a neutral location.

Trump has repeatedly denied he coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election and there has yet to be any definitive evidence of coordination.

Russian journalist Masha Gessen, a fierce critic of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump, has criticized the narrative that Russia hacked the presidential election as a distraction that actually helps the U.S. president.

"Russiagate is helping him," Gessen wrote in The New York Review of Books. "Both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office."

Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Independent, The Daily Caller / Photo credit: Rich Girard/Flickr

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