President Donald Trump produced a running commentary Monday on FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Congress, the AP reports. Thanks to the length of the hearing and the immediacy of Twitter, Comey was able to comment on the president's commentary without leaving his seat. It was a nearly real-time exchange that circled back on itself, like a cat chasing its tail. The AP runs through a few tweets, which were posted from the official @POTUS account:
- TRUMP tweet: "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process."
- THE FACTS: No such assurance was offered by Comey or his fellow witness at the hearing, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers. They did not offer any conclusions about whether Russia succeeded in influencing the election.
- COMEY, asked about the tweet while he was still testifying: "I'm sorry, I haven't been following anybody on Twitter while I've been sitting here." He went on: "We've offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it's never something that we looked at." He confirmed, though, that the FBI is investigating whether and how Russia tried to shape the election, a probe he says includes any potential coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russia's government.
- TRUMP tweet: "FBI Director Comey: fmr. DNI Clapper 'right' to say no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump Campaign."
- THE FACTS: Trump leaves out an important nuance in this tweet about the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper. Comey agreed there was no evidence of collusion in a report prepared by the US intelligence community under Clapper, but that's different than saying no such evidence has been discovered. The Jan. 6 report does not take up the question of contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Instead it focuses on Russia's actions, via cyber operations and propaganda, to try to help Trump's election chances and hurt Hillary Clinton's. Clapper indeed said he had seen no evidence of collusion at the time he left government. But he updated that comment Monday with a statement from spokesman Shawn Turner, saying Clapper "could not account for intelligence or evidence that may have been gathered since the inauguration on January 20th."
- COMEY, when asked if he was aware of collusion between Trump associates and Russia, beyond the findings of the report: "It's not something I can comment on."
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