Lawmakers seek FBI, NSA answers on Trump, Russia at rare public hearing


UPDATE 1-Lawmakers seek FBI, NSA answers on Trump, Russia at rare public hearing

(Updates with Trump tweet in paragraphs 10-12, TV)
    WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - The directors of the FBI
and National Security Agency will break their public silence on
Monday about investigations into possible links between Russia
and President Donald Trump's election campaign at a rare open
congressional intelligence committee hearing.
    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
about allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
    Other congressional committees also are investigating the
matter, mostly behind closed doors. Still, amid a furor 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. [nL2N1GQ0PQ]
    Russia denies attempting to influence the Nov. 8
presidential election.
    Comey and Rogers were not expected to reveal much in public
about the investigations, which include information that is
classified Top Secret and split into different sections, 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 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 any investigation related to the presidential
campaign, after it was unveiled he did not fully reveal his
contacts with Russian officials during the runup to the
election. He failed to disclose that, as senator, he had met
with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
    Hours before the hearing, Trump tweeted that former Director
of National Intelligence "James Clapper and others stated that
there is no evidence Potus (president of the United States)
colluded with Russia," and said Democrats were pushing the
inquiry because the party's election losses.
    Clapper said this month there was no evidence of "collusion"
between the Trump campaign and Russia in a January intelligence
report concluding Russian interference in the 2016 election, but
"this could have unfolded or become available in the time since
I left government." [nL2N1GI0AJ]
    Both Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats in
Congress said they were frustrated by what they considered the
intelligence community's failure to provide enough information
about any contacts with Russia, as well as Trump's
unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Democratic President
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. [nL2N1GS0R1]
    Many Democrats also are deeply unhappy with Comey for his
handling of an inquiry into Democratic presidential candidate
Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, especially as
he issued statements about it shortly before Election Day.
    When asked what the committee expects from the hearing, Jack
Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, gave a substantial list.
    "We're expecting directors Comey and Rogers to shed light on
Russia's active measures undertaken during the 2016 election
campaign, the U.S. government's response, the compilation of the
Intelligence Community's Jan. 6 report on these events, and on
related questions concerned possible surveillance on Trump
campaign associates and on possible leaks of classified
information," he said.
    The Senate Intelligence Committee has announced a public
hearing for March 30. The witness list, titled "Disinformation:
A Primer on Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaign,"
does not yet include any government officials.
    The House committee will hold a second public hearing on
March 28 with former U.S. officials, including Clapper and
former CIA Director John Brennan.

FACTBOX-Congress investigates links between Trump and Russia
 (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Emily Stephenson;
Editing by Mary Milliken and Bernadette Baum)
 ((,; 001-202-898-8390; Reuters


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