Washington, Mar 20: In a rare disclosure, the FBI chief today confirmed that the agency was probing Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential polls, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Testifying before the powerful House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey said the decision to confirm the ongoing investigation is rare as the agency as a matter of policy does not confirm any ongoing investigation.
However, the Department of Justice in larger public interest has given its consent to do so in this case, he said.
“I have been authorised by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said.
“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,” he said.
Comey, however, refused to divulge any details of the ongoing probe.
Acknowledging that the work was very complex, the FBI Director said that there is no timeline to complete this investigation.
“I can promise you we will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.
“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,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Congressman David Nunes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence alleged that the Putin regime has a long history of aggressive actions against other countries, including the outright invasion of two of its neighbours in recent years as well as its brutal military action in Syria to defend the Assad regime.
But its hostile acts take many forms aside from direct military assaults, he said.
Nunes alleged Russia has a long history of meddling in other countries’ election systems and launching cyber attacks on a wide range of countries and industries.
The Baltics and other Russian neighbours have long decried these attacks, but their warnings went unheeded in far too many nations’ capitals, including our own.