FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers will testify again before lawmakers on Thursday about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to a congressional aide.
Thursday’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing will be the first since March 20, when Comey testified that the FBI is investigating Russia’s tampering with the presidential election and possible collusion with associates of President Donald Trump. The hearing will also be the first since Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the committee, recused himself from the Russia probe after the House Committee on Ethics said it was investigating accusations against him.
The House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FBI are each pursuing investigations into Russia’s election tampering. In January, the U.S. intelligence community published a declassified report detailing the Russian interference, and last October, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement confirming the subject. Newsweek learned that Comey had tried to go public earlier about Russia’s tampering and proposed writing an op-ed on the topic prior to the October statement.
Comey took the unusual step of corroborating the existence of the ongoing investigation to the House Intelligence Committee. “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said on March 20. “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.” Unlike the open March 20 hearing, the May 4 hearing will be closed.
The FBI investigation falls under its counterintelligence program, which aims to protect American secrets and foil foreign spies. Such investigations are among the most challenging, especially when politics are involved, Frank Montoya Jr., the bureau’s former national counterintelligence executive, has told Newsweek. The investigation could take years and may result in intelligence gathering, not criminal charges, according to Montoya.
The House Intelligence Committee probe will look at whether Russia directed cyber efforts against the U.S., whether Russia colluded with people involved with U.S. political campaigns, whether the U.S. government’s response to Russian efforts was adequate and what leaks took place related to intelligence.
Since the March 20 hearing, the House Intelligence Committee has faced a shake-up. On April 6, Nunes recused himself from the Russia probe after opponents alleged he had shared investigation information with the White House, leading to the ethics investigation. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power,” Nunes said in a statement. He added that he would seek to end the ethics investigation.
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The House Intelligence Committee had first invited Comey and Rogers in April to appear on Tuesday. The committee also invited former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to testify. They are not scheduled to appear on Thursday, according to the congressional aide.
Comey is also scheduled to attend two upcoming Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearings. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to take part in a full committee hearing on oversight of the FBI. Then, on May 8, he will speak before the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism about Russia’s election tampering.
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