White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is disputing claims that FBI Director James Comey fact-checked President Trump during Monday’s congressional hearing examining Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.
“He was responding to a question,” Spicer said Tuesday when a reporter asked whether the administration was concerned about the FBI correcting Trump’s tweets.
At issue was an exchange that occurred as Comey was testifying on the House intelligence committee. During the hearing, Trump, using the official White House account, tweeted: “The [National Security Agency] and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.”
Asked whether @POTUS’ Twitter commentary was accurate, Comey clarified that “it certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today because we don’t have any information on that subject.”
Spicer downplayed the matter by quoting more broadly from individuals who have been briefed about the FBI investigation – all of whom said there was no evidence of “collusion” between the Russians and Trump campaign officials.
The comments were part of a steady White House effort to make clear that no such evidence has turned up, after Comey confirmed for the first time Monday that the FBI is probing Russian influence in the 2016 race, including possible links to Trump campaign associates.
“At some point there has to be a distinction between an investigation that goes into allegations Russia was trying to influence the 2016 election and this continued narrative that tries to falsely link the Trump campaign to it,” Spicer said.
While Comey did confirm his agency launched an investigation, he would not comment on the exact nature of the probe or when it might be concluded.
Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that the FBI is investigating “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election — and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”