The hearing will continue on for some time, but after the first couple of hours of the testimony of FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, there are three takeaways that we can glean from this rare public hearing from the House Intelligence Committee.
FBI Director James Comey says the FBI and Justice Department have no information to substantiate President Donald Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him before the election.
Comey says no individual can order surveillance of an American. He says courts grant this permission after a rigorous application process.
Comey was testifying before the House intelligence committee. Comey said the Justice Department also asked him to share with the committee that the answer also applies to the Justice Department and its various components. The Justice Department oversees the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
This is extremely bad for President Trump, and yet another example of how his tweets get away from him in a YUUGE way. If he truly desires to be a successful president, he has to stop handing his opponents ammunition.
2) The leaking of FISA court information is a felony, and too many people had access to information.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed in 1978, allows for surveillance of foreign powers by the United States. The leaking of all the information regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn by at least 9 anonymous sources to the media was a felony, and the seriousness of this was highlighted during Representative Gowdy’s questioning – as this information is CLASSIFIED.
As Gowdy rightly points out, FISA is up for renewal this fall, and while he acknowledges that Comey’s interpretation of the FISA is important, he also points out that the American people won’t care if they are open to being spied on by the federal government and the media can get a hold of that information. Gowdy’s point is not whether or not Michael Flynn should have been the National Security Advisor – he was pointing out that the leaks to the media about classified documents are the bigger problem here, and one that is likely to get missed under the Democrats’ consistent complaints about Flynn’s talks with the Russian ambassador.
3) The hacking of the DNC’s emails is not the same as “hacking” the election, no matter how much the Democrats want it to be.
Just because John Podesta is dumb enough to fall for a phishing email, and the DNC refused to let the FBI look at their hacked servers, does not equal an “OMG THE RUSSIANS STOLE THE ELECTION!!!” This was quite efficiently shot down by committee chairman Devin Nunes in his initial line of questioning.
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
The pundits quickly wanted to change the narrative to “collusion,” but that’s a separate issue. There have been multiple stories that claimed the Russians may have hacked voting machines, to the point that the public believed it. Today’s testimony should end that story.
The other claim made today by one of the Democrat committee members (Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama) was that the Russians only hacked the DNC, ergo, the Russians preferred the RNC and Trump. Except that the Russians DID try to hack the RNC. And guess what? The RNC had better cybersecurity systems than the DNC. It’s not the RNC’s fault that the DNC didn’t have better security software on their servers, no matter how the Democrats on the committee want to spin it.
Comey has confirmed that there is an investigation into what Russia may or may not have done to influence the election.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 20, 2017
What happens now, and if the Trump administration ends up entangled in a continuing FBI investigation, is uncertain. But if the Democrats are finally ready to believe Mitt Romney that Russia is a serious geopolitical threat, good. But if they are expecting this entire thing to take down Trump, I’m not sure they should be betting on that.