FBI Director James Comey's opening statement during today’s House Intelligence Committee hearing was extraordinary, confirming far more than anyone had expected.
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, 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.
Comey has confirmed this statement in conversation with Democrats, but he's said nothing about it to Republicans. Why not?
Because they haven't asked. Despite the explosive nature of Comey's statement, Republicans are suddenly interested in only one topic: low-life leakers. Reps. Devin Nunes, Tom Rooney, and particularly Trey Gowdy demonstrated that they had absolutely no interest in Russia or in wiretapping.
Instead, all three asked Comey over and over (and over) about penalties for leaking. Gowdy—who was so “careful” that he refused to say Michael Flynn’s name, but only referred to him as a “U.S. citizen,” named a list of potential issues including former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was ousted and is testifying today. Gowdy stopped just short—by millimeters —of lapping Trump's wiretap claims by directly accusing President Obama of leaking Flynn’s name to the press.
All three were also blunt in threatening Comey with taking away programs if he wouldn't give them what they wanted. So we're getting the spectacle of a hearing on Russia and wiretapping in which Republicans are interested in neither Russia or wiretapping, but instead are badgering the FBI director to do exactly what Trump wanted by threatening programs the director just declared vital.
Good Lord. Nunes just asked Comey if FBI would investigate Clinton campaign or foundation for ties with Russia.