House panel says it has no proof to back Trump wiretap claim

All eyes on FBI chief as Russia, wiretap claims swirl

The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said he expects Comey will say there is nothing to the accusation Trump made against former President Barack Obama.

Republican Devin Nunes, chairman of the house intelligence committee, told Fox News that leaks involving Mr Trump's former aide Michael Flynn were criminal and his panel would investigate whether other names were leaked.

The US intelligence community has publicly blamed Russian Federation for hacks of the Democratic National Committee a year ago, and suggested the cyber attacks were aimed at steering the election to a Trump victory.

Nunes went on to say that if the tweets aren't taken literally, "other surveillance activities looking at him and his associates - either appropriately or inappropriately - we want to find that out".

"I don't know the basis for President Trump's assertion", U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, said on NBC's "Meet the Press".

"Really what they are doing is they are rolling smoke bombs into an investigation where the dots continue to connect around prior personal, political and financial ties with Donald Trump and his team and Russian Federation", said Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview.

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, denied that any evidence of such collusion existed while he oversaw the work of USA intelligence agencies during in interviewo on "Meet the Press" two weeks ago.

In one sense, the unusual controversy over Trump's tweets has left the President in a position where he is most comfortable politically -- at odds with the media and the political and intelligence establishment in Washington.

All those things which falls under the cognizance of man might very likely be mutually related in the same fashion and there can be nothing so remote that we cannot reach to it. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned last month after it was revealed that he had privately discussed USA sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington before Trump took office.

Critics say it has also debased the already-coarse tone of political debate in Washington and eroded the president's credibility at home and overseas.

Trump remains under pressure from members of his own party to back off his claims of illegal wiretapping - particularly after the furor intensified last week when White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested that British intelligence may have played a role in the surveillance.

"To quote my 85-year-old father, it never hurts to say you're sorry", said Rep.

Some observers believe Trump is eroding credibility that he will need to rally Americans in a moment of national crisis.

Nunes has said that the intelligence committee probe focuses in part on who revealed that Flynn had unreported private contacts with the Russians over the sanctions issue. "It's continuing to grow in terms of damage, and he needs to put an end to this". House Speaker Paul Ryan, as well as the chairmen and top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees, have said they have seen no evidence to back the claim.

Identities of Americans who show up in USA surveillance against foreign targets are generally concealed, but can be unmasked by intelligence agencies in certain circumstances. Nunes answered, "I think that's pretty clear".

Monday's hearing promises to be a very public showdown between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and lawmakers, with the national security world certain to watch whether Comey drops a political bombshell. "I think it helps with our allies".

Some of the fallout has been worldwide in scope: The White House was forced to retract a charge repeated last week by its spokesman Sean Spicer suggesting that Britain's intelligence services aided the Obama administration in the alleged wiretap.

CNN reported in February that there was constant contact between Trump campaign aides and Russians known to United States intelligence last summer, citing multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials.

"We'll see what Director Comey testifies about", Cotton said. He said that communications from Americans, including Trump, may have been picked up through ongoing surveillance of foreigners.

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