the headlines usually omit the word ‘possible’ before links to russia, collusion with russia etc

FBI investigating possible coordination between Russia & Trump
Katie Bo Williams, The Hill, Mar 20 2017

FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed that the bureau is investigating Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between members of Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow. The bombshell revelation puts an end to months of roiling speculation and frustration on the part of Democrats, who saw the director’s silence as a double-standard after Comey’s repeated disclosures in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. In a dramatic moment at the beginning of a hotly anticipated House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the Pindo election, Comey announced that he had been authorized by the DoJ to break bureau policy and publicly disclose the probe. A palpable ripple of anticipation went through the hearing room as Comey said:

As you know our practice is not to confirm the existence of an ongoing investigation. But in usual circumstances where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so. This is one of those circumstances.

But he declined to provide more details, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. Comey vowed:

I can promise you we will follow the facts wherever they lead.

The FBI investigation will include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed, Comey said. It began in late July, he said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who was a member of the executive committee of Trump’s transition team, has flatly denied any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The committee’s ranking member, Adam Schiff, has said that it is too early in the investigation to rule out the possibility, arguing that there is “circumstantial” evidence of such ties. Comey confirmed on Monday that the bureau and the DoJ have briefed the Intelligence Committee in a classified setting on details of the investigation. He called the step “unprecedented.” It is the bureau’s policy never to discuss an ongoing investigation, but Democrats say the FBI flagrantly ignored that policy last year with Comey’s disclosures regarding the Clinton investigation. The director has been under fierce pressure to disclose the existence of the Trump probe, pressure he has up until now resisted. After a meeting with House members behind closed doors earlier in the year, he was described by Demagog attendees as “unflinching” and “defiant.” The FBI investigation now threatens to create a rift with the White House. Trump was undoubtedly helped during the campaign by Comey’s eleventh-hour disclosures about the Clinton probe. In January, Trump reportedly asked Comey to stay on as head of the bureau. But late last month, the president took aim at the FBI after Comey reportedly refused to dispute a NYT story that said agents had uncovered contact between Trump campaign officials and Moscow. Comey reportedly called White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and said that while the story was wrong, the FBI would not put out a statement. Trump blasted the FBI on Twitter for being “totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time.” Meanwhile, the DoJ’s inspector general has launched an investigation into whether Comey broke bureau policy with his various disclosures. Demagogs have pointed to a number of publicly-reported connections between several Trump campaign associates and Russian interests. Roger Stone, a former advisor to Trump, has admitted to a “back channel” connection to Julian Assange. Stone has also made public conversations with Guccifer 2.0, the hacker persona believed (by some – RB) to be run by Russian intelligence that was also used to disseminate some of the stolen emails. Foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s reported dealings with Russian energy firm Gazprom and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to a pro-Russian official in Ukraine have also come under scrutiny. Comey repeatedly declined to answer questions about specific Trump associates and their alleged ties to Russia. In a long series of questions from Schiff about Stone, Comey repeated “same answer” to every question.

White House: ‘No evidence’ of Trump-Russia collusion
Jordan Fabian, The Hill, Mar 20 2017

The White House on Monday asserted there is “no evidence” that President Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election after FBI Director James Comey confirmed a bureau investigation. A White House official wrote in an email:

Nothing has changed. Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal.

Comey’s explosive revelation earlier Monday morning ended months of speculation about whether the federal government is probing Trump’s campaign and challenged the president’s repeated efforts to downplay his team’s alleged involvement with Moscow. But the White House is pointing to statements made by former acting D/CIA Morrell and DNI Clapper that they have seen no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russians. Ahead of the House intelligence panel hearing where Comey confirmed the probe, Trump tweeted:

Comey’s description of the situation, however, is at odds with Trump’s. He said the DoJ authorized him to publicly acknowledge the probe’s existence. Comey said:

I can promise you we will follow the facts wherever they lead.

The FBI director repeatedly declined to provide more details about the investigation, including which Trump officials are being targeted. The inquiry, which he said began last July, will determine whether any crimes were committed.

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