FBI director James Comey dropped a few bombs during his March 20 testimony before the House of Representatives, which is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
For the first time, Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating "the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," an inquiry which includes "individuals associated with the [President Donald Trump] campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts," CNN reports.
Comey also told the House Intelligence Committee that he had no evidence to support claims by the president that Trump Tower was targeted in a surveillance operation by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
He was referring to Trump's March 4 accusation via Twitter that Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the 2016 presidential election. As quoted by The New York Times, Trump tweeted: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
During his testimony, Comey declared: "I have no information that supports those tweets. And we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for DOJ and all its components. The Department has no information that supports those tweets."
In addition, National Security Agency Chief Mike Rogers, who appeared with Comey at the hearing, refuted Trump's claim that Obama had ordered British spies to eavesdrop on his presidential election campaign, CNN notes.
Comey's testimony has bolstered the view that Trump is vulnerable to charges of impeachment.
The day prior to the hearing, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas raised the issue in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, cited by Newsweek. "If you do not have any proof and you have been saying this for three weeks then you are clearly on the edge of the question of public trust and those actions can be associated with high crimes and misdemeanors for which articles of impeachment can be drawn," she said.
Noah Feldman, a Harvard professor of constitutional and international law, laid out an argument for impeachment in an opinion piece for Bloomberg:
The sitting president has accused his predecessor of an act that could have gotten the past president impeached. That’s not your ordinary exercise of free speech. If the accusation were true, and President Barack Obama ordered a warrantless wiretap of Donald Trump during the campaign, the scandal would be of Watergate-level proportions. But if the allegation is not true and is unsupported by evidence, that too should be a scandal on a major scale. This is the kind of accusation that, taken as part of a broader course of conduct, could get the current president impeached.
Feldman concludes: "If the alleged action would be impeachable if true, so must be the allegation if false. Anything else would give the president the power to distort democracy by calling his opponents criminals without ever having to prove it."