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Democrats: Trump's wiretap claims are hurting diplomatic relations

20 March 2017, 05:44 | Taylor George

The White House has faced a storm of criticism for Mr Trump's wiretapping claims which were made two weeks ago following damaging revelations about contacts between his officials and the Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

Devin Nunes, the committee chairman, won't say what was received.

The U.S. intelligence community issued a report in early January in which the CIA, FBI and NSA concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign involving covert intelligence operations and overt propaganda to undermine faith in the 2016 U.S. election, disparage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump's election chances. If Nunes is wrong if evidence does surface that Trump and Russian Federation colluded, his defense of the president connects the House Republicans to the scandal.

U.S. intelligence agencies in January took the extraordinary step of stating publicly that they had concluded that hackers working for Russian Federation broke into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing ones with the aim of helping Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

A congressional panel so far has found no evidence that Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation, its chairman said Sunday.

President Donald Trump with his wife first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump, points to the applauding crown as they disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Friday, March 17, 2017. The Trump administration has also reiterated those denials.

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Several congressional panels have launched investigations into Russia's alleged interference, including the House and Senate intelligence committees, which have jurisdiction over the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and the House and Senate judiciary committees. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told Fox News Sunday that he has seen no evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower, and said he is leaving it to committees to investigate, "I want to get on with passing our agenda", Ryan said.

Trump and aides have also denied any connection to Russians who sought to hack Democratic officials during last year's election, and said opponents are leaking derogatory information against them as part of a "witch hunt" to undermine the presidency.

But this Sunday on "Meet The Press", Schiff, D-Calif., told host Chuck Todd, "I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don't think you can make that claim categorically as he did".

Even White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who has been doing verbal somersaults in response to an avalanche of questions at his daily news briefings, seems to have thrown up his hands.

Analysts say the hearing is likely to be a very public showdown between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and lawmakers, with the national security world certain to watch whether Comey drops a political bombshell on Washington. But Cruz said Trump still needs to put forward the facts.

"There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation", he added.



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