The FBI has finally confirmed that it’s been investigating Trump-Russia ties since July of last year. FBI Director James Comey spoke at a House of Representatives Select Intelligence Committee hearing on possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Comey said, for the first time, that the FBI is investigating possible connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and administration and Russia.
As you know, our practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters. But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so. … This is one of those circumstances.
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, and 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 between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.
Because it is an open ongoing investigation and is classified, I cannot say more about what we’re doing and whose conduct we’re examining.
The FBI has been investigating Trump-Russia ties ever since the DNC first said that it had been hacked last July, Democratic National Committee first announced that it had been hacked last summer. There has been consensus in the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian government was behind the intrusion.
However, this is the first time Comey has spoken of the investigation — a fact that’s sure to rile Democrats, given that while the FBI had kept the Trump investigation secret for over 6 months, it made repeated statements to the public about its investigation of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Comey famously wrote a letter to Congress about the investigation a week before the election.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said during the hearing, “If the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”