MAMOSA Report — FBI Director James Comey met with Senate leadership during a classified, closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon amid an outcry over President Donald Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the run-up to the election.
Comey met with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — collectively known as the Senate’s “Big Four” on intelligence issues.
Comey is expected to meet with their House of Representatives counterparts later Thursday.
The FBI director is briefing members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” on the Hill, the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, plus the chairmen and ranking Democrats on both chambers’ intelligence committees. These eight lawmakers are periodically updated on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence matters, including counterintelligence investigations on U.S. citizens.
The closed-door meeting comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading an investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential race, including any potential contact between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both declined to comment as they left their meeting with Comey Thursday afternoon, The Hill reported.
Sen Warner — hounded by a herd of reporters after the meeting — declined to comment on the substance of the meeting or who was in attendance.
But he said he still has seen no proof to support President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the campaign.
“I stand by my statement,” he said. “I’ve seen no evidence.”
Comey has reportedly asked the Justice Department to issue a statement rebutting Trump’s wiretapping claims, something the department has not done, Politico reported.
A spokesman for Obama has denounced Trump’s Twitter statement as “simply false.”
His briefing with lawmakers also comes as the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are questioning whether the intelligence community has been as forthcoming as it should be with the Gang of Eight about counterintelligence investigations.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told reporters earlier this week that while news reports cited intelligence agencies’ scrutiny of contacts between Trump campaign members and Russian officials, the committee was never made aware of such investigations.
“If Trump or any other political campaign, anybody associated with Trump, was under some kind of investigation, that clearly should have risen to the Gang of Eight level,” Nunes said. “Clearly we have some questions about whether or not last year we were read into everything that we should have been read into.”
The closed-door classified briefing comes less than a week after Trump appeared to catch lawmakers off guard when he tweeted that his predecessors “had my ‘wires tapped.'”
McConnell said earlier Thursday that he thought it was “appropriate” for the Senate Intelligence Committee to fold Trump’s claim into its larger Russia investigation.