Senate Intelligence panel will see Comey
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[June 29, 2017]
By Patricia Zengerle and Dustin Volz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the U.S.
Senate Intelligence Committee said on Wednesday they had reached an
agreement that would allow them to see memos written by former FBI
Director James Comey about his meetings with President Donald Trump.
Comey's relationship with Trump has been central to ongoing
investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether
there was collusion between Trump associates and Moscow. Lawmakers have
raised questions about whether Trump fired Comey on May 9 in order to
interfere with the Russia probe.
Russia has denied such assertions. Trump, a Republican, has dismissed
them as sour grapes voiced by Democrats disappointed by his victory and
called them a "witch hunt."
"We have a commitment to get appropriate access to the Comey memos,"
Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat, told reporters at the Senate.
"I'm pleased. I think it's critical information that we have to have as
part of our review process."
He said he expected to have the memos "soon."
Warner declined to say much about the progress of the investigation or
provide a timeline for when it might be concluded. "I would have thought
we would have been further along, but I would never have expected the
administration to fire Jim Comey. You can't make this stuff up," he
When asked, he said he expected that Trump's son-in-law and close
adviser, Jared Kushner, would appear before the committee as promised
despite having recently hired a lawyer.
Politico first reported that Richard Burr, the committee's Republican
chairman, said the panel would be obtaining memos Comey wrote
documenting his conversations with Trump.
Comey testified to the intelligence committee this month that he decided
to keep detailed records because he felt so uncomfortable after meetings
with the president that he feared Trump might lie about them.
The Russia investigations, by Department of Justice Special Counsel
Robert Mueller and congressional committees, have dogged the first
months of Trump's presidency and distracted from his policy goals such
as repealing President Barack Obama's healthcare law.
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Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate
Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in
the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trump has also faced criticism from fellow Republicans as well as
Democrats over his administration's failure to do more to
investigate charges that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election
and concerns that it might do so again.
"Russia's our most dangerous adversary in the world today, and if he
continues to refuse to act, it's a dereliction of the basic duty to
defend the country," Nicholas Burns, an undersecretary of state
under Republican President George W. Bush, testified to the Senate
panel on Wednesday.
At a hearing last week that focused on the U.S. election, a Homeland
Security official testified that Russian hackers targeted 21 U.S.
state election systems in the 2016 presidential race and that a
small number were breached.
Warner said the panel had asked officials in 21 states to release
information about the hacking. "I do not see how Americans are made
safer when they do not know which state elections systems Russia
tried to hack," he said.
The probes have at times come up against Republican concerns about
leaks of classified information and unproven assertions by Trump and
others that Obama's administration improperly spied on Trump
On Wednesday, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham
asked the FBI and Justice Department for copies of applications to
the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission
to conduct surveillance related to the election, including any
related to the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Dustin Volz; Editing by Steve
Orlofsky and Andrew Hay)
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