ibusinesslines.com March 24, 2017

Sen. Collins: Americans owed explanation on wiretap claim

20 March 2017, 03:19 | Myron Mathis

House panel gets DoJ information about Trump's wiretap claim

Senate Intel Committee sets hearing on Russian election interference

The directors of the FBI and National Security Agency will break their public silence on Monday about investigations into possible links between Russian Federation and President Donald Trump's election campaign at a rare open congressional intelligence committee hearing. Collins encouraged Trump to turn whatever evidence he has of the surveillance over to the congressional intelligence panels looking into the matter. "The American people have a right to know, and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether this circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more".

"The information we received Friday continues to lead us in that direction". He repeated an unsubstantiated claim that Britain's cyber intelligence organization conducted the surveillance at Obama's behest, a claim the agency GBHQ flatly denied; and mentioned during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's first visit to the Trump White House the Obama administration's monitoring of Merkel's cellphone, a bruising incident in German-U.S. relations.

Collins, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday she has not seen any evidence of Trump's claims.

"I'll give you a very simple answer: No", he said.

The House Intelligence Committee's top members, Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff, both of California, have so far not been presented by the Justice Department with any evidence backing up President Trump's tweeted allegation that former President Obama during the election.

Russian Federation denies attempting to influence the November 8 presidential election.

The House committee will hold a second public hearing on March 28 with former USA officials, including Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan.

The leaders of the House intelligence committee wrote the three agencies earlier this week, asking for details about Americans who surfaced in intelligence collections between June 2016 and January.

Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns says the president's wiretap claims are hurting his credibility.

Nunes said Sunday that, based on his briefing with the Department of Justice, "there never" were physical wiretaps of Trump Tower, adding that a classified report from the department on Friday bolstered his belief that Trump was "literally" wrong.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz seemed to back Trump, at least in spirit. But Cruz said Trump still needs to put forward the facts.

"We're not here to listen to speeches", Nunes said.

The Arkansas Republican also called for the defeat of ISIS, but said the United States needs to counter Iran, whose activities he blamed, in part, for the rise of ISIS.

The senator also called the nude photo scandal in the Marine Corps, in which photographs of service members were taken and shared online without the subjects' consent, "extremely disappointing" and assured the public that those responsible would be identified and punished. 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.

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