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What We Know So Far From the House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Russia

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 20, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 20, 2017 |

Here’s what we know, so far, from the first hour or so of the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia, which includes testimony from FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

— There is no information supporting Trump’s tweets alleging that Obama ordered a wiretap, and that such allegations have not exactly helped our working relationship with other countries, specifically Britain and Germany. Comey adamantly rebutted Trump’s allegations.

— The FBI is investigating potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but James Comey cannot comment on the open, ongoing investigation, nor can he really even comment on the character of the investigation. Comey, however, repeatedly refuses to comment on Roger Stone or his admitted relationship with Julian Assange, or the Russian hacker responsible for the DNC and John Podesta hacks. The investigation, by the way, began three months before the election (Comey attempted to beg reporters off the investigation before the election).

— The Republican members of the hearing are almost exclusively asking questions about the illegal leaks. Comey insists that it is illegal to disseminate classified information. One Republican congressman, Trey Gowdy (South Carolina), is trying to suggest that it’s illegal for reporters to publish the information. Comey won’t comment on whether that is illegal, but says that no reporter has been prosecuted for publishing leak information in his lifetime and that it would be highly unusual for it to happen.

Basically, the GOP is trying to discredit the leaked information. Comey, meanwhile, will not admit that there is an investigation into the leaks.

— If you have a minute, Representative Adam Schiff’s opening statement is well worth watching. It goes point by point through all the circumstantial evidence linking Trump and his campaign to Russia, and while it doesn’t prove anything definitive, it suggests that it is highly unlikely that all of connections is coincidental. None of this information is new, but it’s never been combined into one lengthy report. It is damning as hell. Unfortunately, the GOP is trying to cloud the wealth of circumstantial evidence by focusing on how the information was disseminated, rather than the information itself.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.