Politics

Rep. Schiff goes after Trump wiretapping allegations in Comey Intel Committee hearing

Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) (R) speak during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) (R) speak during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

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At the House Intelligence Committee's public hearing Monday with FBI Director James Comey testifying, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff tried to settle President Donald Trump's claims that the Obama administration illegally wiretapped him.

The exchange with Comey dismissing the president's tweeted allegations, despite its significance, was one of the six-hour hearing's shortest, Schiff told KPCC. Trump's statements that Barack Obama had wiretapped him were disturbing and baseless, Schiff said. 

Schiff quoted Trump's allegation, which the president tweeted on March 4. 

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/837989835818287106

"Director Comey," Schiff said, "was the president's statement that Obama had his wires tapped in Trump Tower a true statement?"

Comey responded, saying the FBI had no information supporting the president's statement. 

At that same hearing, Comey acknowledged the FBI's investigation into coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told KPCC he was most concerned about whether his committee had the resources to conduct its own independent, well-staffed investigation into possible Russian interference with the general election. 

"I think [another investigation] would be beneficial and give people a comfort level that this is being thoroughly investigated," he said.

The FBI doesn't typically divulge ongoing investigations to the public, Schiff said, adding that he wanted to see continued oversight of the FBI's investigation as it moves forward. That way, the country can "inoculate itself" and begin to seek ways to defend against future interference from Russia or other governments in U.S. elections, he said.

When asked about the likelihood of Congress creating an independent investigative body to investigate Russia's role in the election, Schiff responded, "More likely today than it was yesterday. But it's still uphill."

In addition to the exchange about the president's tweets, the hearing saw testimony from both Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers on a number of complicated issues surrounding the Trump campaign, Schiff said. The hearing was led by Schiff and another California congressman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.