FBI head briefs top lawmakers amid Russia probe


FBI Director James Comey huddled with top House and Senate lawmakers on Thursday at a pair of classified, closed-door briefings. 

The FBI director met first with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D.Va)—the top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee—in a secure room in the Senate basement, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

He then crossed the Capitol to meet with their House counterparts: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)—the top two members of the House Intelligence Committee. 

{mosads}Collectively, the eight House and Senate lawmakers are known as Congress’s “Gang of Eight” on intelligence issues, giving them the most access to classified information. 

Lawmakers were tight-lipped entering and leaving the meetings, refusing to discuss the substance of the briefing or whom they met with. Comey and some members used alternate exits that allowed them to avoid the swarm of reporters hoping to get a comment after the meetings.

McConnell — who routinely ignores hallway questions — did not answer reporters’ inquiries as he left the Senate basement. 

Asked separately what he hoped to get out of the briefing, Nunes fired back: “How do you know we’re being briefed?”

The closed-door powwow comes less than a week after President Trump appeared to catch lawmakers off guard by accusing the Obama administration of wiretapping him during the election. 

The Trump administration has floated that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees could fold a probe of the president’s accusation into their larger investigations into Russia’s mudding in the White House race and if there are any links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. 

Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department to knock down Trump’s claim shortly after he made it.

Warner — hounded by a herd a reporters after the meeting — declined to comment on the substance of the session 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 Trump Tower during the campaign.

“I stand by my statement,” he said. “I’ve seen no evidence.”

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. 

Comey previously briefed the full Senate Intelligence Committee last month an uproar over alleged contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Updated 7:08 p.m.  

Tags Adam Schiff Chuck Schumer Mark Warner Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Richard Burr

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