FBI And NSA Directors Testify On Russia's Role In Hacking US Election
Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers
The FBI Director James Comey along with NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers are testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee in the first public hearing on the supposed Russain hacking of the US Election in 2016.
A top democrat on the US House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, launched the hearing with accusing Russia of "launching a disinformation campaign, using RT."
SputnikNews reports: However, he said that "we'll never know" if alleged Russian actions determined the outcome of the US vote.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any accusations of Russia allegedly attempting to sway the US election to Trump.
"Russia successfully meddled in our democracy and they'll do that again," Shiff claimed during the hearing.
Schiff also accused Moscow of allegedly influencing "democracies" in Europe via different means.
Schiff accused Trump's campaign advisor Carter Page of secretly meeting Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who had worked for the KGB before the fall of the Soviet Union. He also claimed, however, without presenting any proof, that Russia has allegedly used "same techniques" to "corrupt officials in the US" as in Europe, saying that this "should concern all Americans."
Schiff also cited media reports and even Trump's tweets to prove Russia's alleged involvement in the US election.
"We're now engaged in a new war of ideas," Schiff continued.
NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, who has been second to address the hearing, said that the NSA worked closely with the US Intelligence Committee to provide information on alleged Russia's interference.
Meanwhile, FBI chief Comey said at the hearing that the FBI is investigating alleged Russian government's efforts to interfere in the US presidential election.
"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 stated. "And that includes investigating the nature of any links between the individuals associated with Trump campaign and the Russian government."
Comey advised not to draw any conclusions before the investigation has ended. However, he gave no timetable when the probe would be finished.
Rogers and Comey testified that Russia didn't in any way change vote tallies in any of US states.
"No, I do not," Rogers said in a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing when asked if he had any evidence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. FBI Director James Comey also said that his agency had no such evidence.
The hearing also focused on US President Donald Trump's claim on Barack Obama allegedly ordering wiretapping Trump Tower during the election campaign.
Rogers commented on media reports of an "incidental collection" of surveillance information. He said that US persons' names are not mentioned if they turn out to be part of the so-called "incidental collection" when a foreign citizen is being surveilled and a US citizen has contacts with him, thus indirectly also turns out to be wiretapped.
Twenty NSA staff members have an authority to "unmask" US citizens involved in the "incidental collection," Rogers said.
Rogers answered negatively when asked if he knows about any reasons why an intelligence officer can unveil the identity of a "masked" US citizen that was a part of the "incidental collection."
The hearing also touched upon the numerous leaks of classified information under the Trump administration. Rogers said he cannot comment on any details before a research is done, adding that the information is secret.
Comey said that a person who leaks classified information may face up to 10 years in prison for felony.
Comey was asked about the reports containing leaks of the former US national security advisor, Michael Flynn, with the Russian ambassador to Washington. "It's a serious crime," Comey said, commenting on the leaks of classified information in media.
Comey said he has "no information confirming those tweets" with reference to Trump's claims "Obama had his wires tapped." He added that the FBI looked into the issue very carefully. He also added that the president or any other US citizen cannot order such surveillance, only the courts can.