Rebuffed by Comey’s testimony, Trump tweet teases new theory
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – After the FBI director said he had no information to back up a conspiracy theory pushed by President Donald Trump on Twitter, Trump took to Twitter to tease something new.
The official presidential Twitter account noted Monday that FBI Director James Comey declined to say before a House panel whether he briefed President Barack Obama on former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russian operatives.
The response amounted to Trump’s first direct public response to Comey’s testimony, in which he also confirmed the Department of Justice was looking into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Comey also said he was unaware of any evidence supporting Trump’s allegations that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.
“FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia,” said the tweet, which was sent out shortly after 12:30 p.m. ET.
It is unclear if Trump sent out the tweet or ordered it. The account says it is managed by Trump’s social media manager, Dan Scavino.
The tweet suggests Obama — and by extension Comey — could have been the source of leaked information about meetings between Flynn and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak that eventually led to Flynn’s resignation. There’s no evidence to back up that suggestion, either.
In testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Monday, Comey cautioned against drawing conclusions from his decisions to not comment on certain topics.
“I know speculating is part of human nature, but it really isn’t fair to draw conclusions simply because I say that I can’t comment,” Comey said.
Rep. Jim Himes asked Comey and Rogers about the White House, to which, Comey replied that it would be hard to comment without seeing the tweets, but Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, pressed.
“It was not our intention to say that today,” Comey said, noting that the they have not been tasked with determining the effectiveness of Russia’s efforts.
Comey responded, it’s not “something that we looked at” as part of Intelligence Community review into Russia cyberattacks, disputing the White House.
Trump’s official Twitter account also tweeted an exchange between the Director of the National Security Agency and committee chair Devin Nunes on how there is no evidence vote totals were changed in a series of 2016 battleground states.
“So you have no intelligence that suggests, or evidence that suggests, any votes were changed,” Nunes asks.
“I have nothing generated by the national security industry, sir,” Rogers says.
Comey was later asked a similar question and said it’s not “something that we looked at.”
And Trump’s account also tweeted Rogers telling Rep. Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican, that revealing the name of an American swept up inadvertently in a wiretapping would damage national security and future surveillance programs.
The tweets amount to selective responses in light of a pair of statements Comey made Monday morning that could undercut the administration.
In his opening statement, Comey confirmed — for the first time publicly — that the FBI was investigating “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” an inquiry which includes “individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Under questioning from Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey also told the committee that he had no proof that backed up Trump’s unfounded claim that Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
“I have no information that supports those tweets. And we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said. “The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for DOJ and all its components. The Department has no information that supports those tweets.”
A White House official told CNN as the hearing was ongoing that “nothing has changed” based on revelations from Comey’s testimony.
“Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal,” the official said. “Obama’s CIA director said so. Obama’s Director of National Intelligence said so. We take them at their word.”
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told NBC earlier this month that he has seen “no evidence of such collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.
This story has been updated to reflect breaking news.
CNN’s Manu Raju and Tom LoBianco contributed to this report.
By Dan Merica, CNN