President Donald Trump on Monday shot down as “fake news” allegations that he worked with Russia, which US intelligence says tried to tilt the US election in Trump’s favour.
His tweet came just as FBI and NSA chiefs were to speak to Congress on what ties Trump may have with Russia and his shocking claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Former national intelligence director “James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is Fake News and everyone knows it!” Trump said on Twitter.
“The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!” he added.
Representatives Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat, have called FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to testify as part of their committee’s probe into allegations that Russia meddled in US elections.
Other congressional committees also are investigating the matter, mostly behind closed doors. But amid a furore over whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential race on Trump’s behalf, lawmakers said they would make public as much of their probes as possible.
Russia denies attempting to influence the election.
Comey and Rogers are not expected to reveal much in public about the probes, which include information that is classified Top Secret and also separated into different compartments, each of which requires a separate clearance.
But the hearing could become heated as Republicans balance support for their party’s leaders and Democrats vent frustration over Republican congressional leaders’ refusal to appoint a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate.
Trump fired his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, last month after he failed to disclose contacts with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office on Jan. 20.
Last week, new information surfaced about more than $65,000 that Flynn was paid in 2015 by companies with links to Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator, recused himself from investigating the matter after it was revealed that he did not answer accurately when he was asked during his confirmation hearing about his contacts with Russian officials during the election. He failed to disclose that, as senator, he had met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Both Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress said they were frustrated by what they consider the intelligence community’s failure to provide enough information about any contacts with Russia, as well as Trump’s claim, made without evidence, that his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower.
Schiff said he expected Comey to make clear at Monday’s hearing that the allegation was unfounded.
“I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the president said was just patently false,” Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Nunes said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was not aware of any warrant that would have allowed such a wiretap.
Members of both parties have threatened to subpoena administration officials or delay confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominees until their requests for information are answered.