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No wiretap of Trump Tower, GOP intel committee says

20 March 2017, 07:14 | Melvin Schneider

Rep. Adam Schiff, the most high-ranking Democratic official on the House Intelligence Committee, reportedly expected Comey to agree with him that Trump's claims were "patently false".

Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats' computers in a bid to help Mr Trump's election bid.

The president does not have the unilateral authority to order a wiretap on suspected foreign spies operating inside the U.S., experts say. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Fox News Sunday that he has seen no evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower and said he is leaving it to committees to investigate.

Schiff said that the ongoing effort determing the scope of Russian interference in the USA election system represented the most important challenge for US intelligence.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an earlier assertion from Mr Trump by saying that there had been no wiretapping of Trump Tower.

Mr Comey told the US House Intelligence Committee: "This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done".

He added: "Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of USA citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign".

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He joins "CBS This Morning" to preview Monday's hearing with FBI director James Comey on the investigation into Russian interference in the USA presidential election. He drew parallels to Watergate and McCarthyism and said Obama was a "Bad (or sick) guy!" for ordering surveillance of his NY residence - allegations the former president quickly denied through a spokesman.

National Security Agency head Michael Rogers added that the idea that the USA asked British surveillance to spy on Trump Tower was "utterly ridiculous".

Trump's explosive claims of wiretapping caused an global row last week when press secretary Sean Spicer read from unverified reports that said a British intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, conspired with Obama to wiretap Trump.

Nunes said Trump could be referring to new information about whether intelligence officials "unmasked", or identified, US citizens who were captured speaking with foreign officials who are under routine surveillance - a process governed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russian Federation. I have been authorised by the Department of Justice to confirm that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election". "This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it".

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

After Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's weekend visit to Beijing, China is preparing for a meeting of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Foreign Ministry says. "And it has to be thoughtful, because we are feeding into this covert-action narrative that the Russians are trying to create".



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