FBI Director James Comey Takes On New Role Fact-Checking the President’s Tweets
Robert Mackey, Intercept, Mar 20 2017
In a first for Congressional hearings, FBI director James Comey was asked to say under oath on Monday if the official Twitter feed of the POTUS was lying about the testimony he was still giving. The extraordinary moment came after Comey had confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that there is indeed an ongoing counter-intelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election of Donald Trump as president and of “whether there was any coordination” between the Trump campaign and the Russian effort.”
Comey also stated categorically that there was no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that former Pres Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower, speculation Trump himself had stated as fact in a moment of Breitbart-induced delirium earlier this month.
After those revelations, Comey and NSA director Michael Rogers were asked by Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the intelligence committee and a former member of Trump’s transition team, if they had any evidence that Russian hackers had tampered with the counting of votes in the small number of states that swung the electoral college in Trump’s favor. Both men replied that they did not. Video of that exchange was soon posted on the president’s official Twitter account, @POTUS, which is managed by Trump’s former caddy and current social media director, Dan Scavino. The president’s Twitter spokesman, however, added a caption which mischaracterized the testimony of the two men as proof that “Russia did not influence electoral process.”
That was incorrect. Comey and Rogers had instead both made it plain that they stood by their earlier assessment, in a report that was partially declassified on Jan 6, that Russia had indeed hacked the email accounts of Democratic officials, and provided stolen messages to WikiLeaks, in order to damage the electoral chances of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. A short time later, the two men, who were appearing before the committee largely to clear up confusion caused by the president’s earlier tweets about “the Russia story” being “fake news” and President Obama “tapping my phones in October” were asked by Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, if the new @POTUS tweet was a fair summary of their testimony. Comey and Rogers replied that they had offered no judgement as to the effectiveness of the Russian campaign on the opinions of Pindo voters when they said that there was no evidence of tampering with the actual vote-counting in the swing states.
As the New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza noted, the White House seemed to have shot itself in the foot by live-tweeting its misleading account of the testimony before the hearing was over.
The same official government account was also used to misrepresent Comey’s refusal to go along with Trey Gowdy, who seemed intent on planting the baseless theory that Obama could have leaked the news that Michael Flynn had lied about discussions with the Russian ambassador.
Before the hearing was over, Trump’s Twitter spokesman also falsely claimed that Comey had agreed with the premise that there was “no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump Campaign.”
In fact, Comey had merely agreed that there was no evidence of that two months ago, when the Jan 6 intelligence assessment was released. He made it clear in his opening statement on Monday that the counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and the Russian government to determine “whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts” was “ongoing.” That investigation, he added, “will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
Below is more relevant goodies, starting with two comments from MoA:
Comey: “The Russians Concluded Trump Was Hopeless Last August”
Tyler Durden, Mar 21 2017
It appears that Russia fell for the same ruse that much of Pindostan, not to mention its press and punditry, was taken by, at least according to the FBI director: believing Pindosi polls. During his hearing before the House Intel Panel, FBI Director James Comey said that the Russians expected Hillary Clinton to win the presidency over Donald Trump as of August and September. Although it was not clear just how the FBI knew what the Russians “concluded” as of last summer, Comey said:
Late in the summer they concluded based on the polling that a lot of people were reading that Mr Trump didn’t stand a chance.
Comey says of Russian thinking at the time:
Let’s just focus on undermining her.
Which however was also confusing, as earlier in his testimony Comey said:
We saw no efforts aimed at the vote itself.
Comey then disputed the content of a tweet from Pres Trump regarding Russia influencing the 2016 presidential race. At the same time that Comey and D/NSA Michael Rogers testified to the House Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the Pindosi presidential election, the president tweeted a video from his @POTUS account:
Responding to a question from Jim Himes about the president’s Twitter post, Comey said:
We’ve offered no opinion, have no view and have no information on potential impact because it’s never something we looked at.
Comey was then pressed:
Is it too far of a logical leap to conclude that the assertion that you have told the Congress that there was no influence on the electoral process is not quite right?
It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today, because we don’t have any information on that subject. That’s not something that was looked at.
Comey then again seemed to contradict himself when he said:
We saw efforts to penetrate the voter registration databases.
Five hours after its start, the hearing continues, with numerous extrapolations, with no actual facts presented, as the heads of the FBI and NSA redefine conspiracy theory.