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FBI confirms investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump campaign

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Director Comey also cast doubt on Trump Tower wiretap claims

FBI Director James Comey Briefs Senators On Capitol On Intelligence Matters Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a House Intelligence Committee meeting today, FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible ties between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government. The investigation has been widely reported since the election, but this is the first public confirmation by the bureau, which typically does not confirm or deny ongoing investigations.

“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 told the committee, “and 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.” According to the director, the investigation has been ongoing since July of last year.

Emails from a number of Clinton campaign officials were stolen and leaked over the course of the 2016 campaign, an activity Trump actively encouraged on the campaign trail. In January, the director of National Intelligence publicly attributed the activity to Russian agents. Trump confidant Roger Stone has admitted to privately communicating with the hacker responsible, although he downplayed the significance of the contact.

FBI Director Comey said he would brief members of Congress on the details of the investigation in a classified briefing, but declined to say more in the public hearing, citing the sensitive nature of the inquiry. “We just cannot do our work fairly if we start talking about it while we’re doing it,” Comey told the committee.

Comey also denied a recent allegation by President Trump that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, a claim that has been linked to an earlier report by Fox News.

As previously reported, Comey stated there was no evidence to support the assertion. “I have no information that supports those tweets,” Comey said, “and we have looked carefully within the FBI.”