During the hearing, Rep. Hines read out Trump's Tweets mischaracterizing Comey's and Rogers' comments on Russian interference. What followed was more-or-less a fact-check on the Tweets. Comey. That "wasn't our intention to say that today."
Lol they're just fact-checking tweets now pic.twitter.com/OZzgGb8dhj
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) March 20, 2017
This is quite extraordinary. The former national chairman for Trump's presidential campaign, Paul Manafort has made a lot of money lobbying on behalf of dictators. After this Russian ties emerged, his was dumped by the Trump team. But the fact remains that he was the campaign's national chairman. How could someone in that position possibly play a "limited role" in the campaign?
Wow - Spicer now describing Manafort as playing a "very limited role" for a "very limited" time. He was chairman of the campaign!!!
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 20, 2017
Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley calls out Attorney General Jeff Sessions for committing perjury. Twice misleading Congress about meetings with Russian officials, Quigley says, is a mistake that can be fixed under oath. A third time is a step too far, and constitutes the crime of perjury. As reports show, Sessions very likely met with Sergey Kislyak for a third time, indicating that he may have even obfuscated the truth after the original two meetings emerged.
While Comey has made it clear with repetition of the word "no, I cannot answer that question," that he cannot reveal specific details of the investigation. He can only confirm, with the DOJ's permission, that there is in fact an investigation relating to Trump's potential collusion with Russian officials. One Democratic House representative, however, thinks that there is enough circumstantial evidence to bring the case against Trump forward. Watch Rep. Eric Swalwell explain on MSNBC:
Other than Comey and Rogers debunking Trump's absurd claim that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower, the other big news is that the FBI is indeed investigating potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials. Video:
Comey says that the FBI is investigating alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign https://t.co/1F9D0xuApc
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) March 20, 2017
Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) is up. She says Russia’s inference “an act of war.” Pretty strong - and perhaps reckless - language. While it’s imperative to uncover any collusion that may have undermined US democratic processes, this isn’t a time for saber-rattling just to further marginalize the opposing side.
Rep. Nunes kicks off the next round of Republican question by underscoring that historically there is no evidence that Russia prefers Republicans over Democrats. This is, of course, sort of beside the point. They may be trying to distance Trump and themselves from affinity with the Russian government, but Trump is a new breed of Republican and the advisors in his corner represent a unique blend of interests.
His top strategist - Steve Bannon - is a bizarre alt-right figure who, much like the extreme, xenophobic right in Europe, possesses an affinity for Putin's traditionalism. He's primary goal is to deconstruct the world order in order to usher in a new age of renewed Judeo-Christian fervor. Needless to say, his national security and geo-political priorities are quite different from your run-of-the-mill republican.
The conservatives on the panel can try and leverage previous Republicans' hostility to Russia, but the fact remains - Trump has called him a great leader, has ignored his human rights violations, and seemingly has more than a few connections with Russian elite.
According to long-time New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, now that the FBI director has publicly confirmed an investigation into Russia's inference in the election on Trump's behalf, you can expect an louder chorus for an independent, non-partisan body to oversee it:
Now that this investigation has been publicly confirmed by the FBI director expect louder calls for an independent counsel to take it over.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) March 20, 2017
Comey goes as far as to say that “Putin hated Hillary Clinton so much” that he definitely supported Trump. Rogers then says that the intelligence community generally agrees that any Russian interference in the election - regardless of its degree - was done on behalf of the Trump campaign.
Republicans obsess over the leaks that outed Micheal Flynn. Democrats, conversely, lay out the narrative that the media has formed around Roger Stone and his communications with Russian hackers and officials. Comey cannot actually confirm investigation details.
Currently. Connecticut Rep. Himes has highlighted that everyone - from US allies to Comey himself - have been attacked by Donald Trump in absurd, inflated terms. Yet one particular figure - Vladimir Putin - has been "inoculated" from Trump's vitriol.