US House panel calls FBI director, other intel officials to testify on Russia
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US House panel calls FBI director, other intel officials to testify on Russia

Hearing on Moscow's interference in last year's presidential campaign set for May 2; ex-CIA director also called

FBI Director James Comey at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 20, 2017. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)
FBI Director James Comey at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 20, 2017. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

WASHINGTON — The US House Intelligence Committee on Friday said it has requested FBI director James Comey and others to testify as part of its Russia probe, one of the investigation’s first steps since its leader stepped down.

The committee said in a statement that it had sent letters Thursday to Comey and National Security Agency director Mike Rogers inviting them to appear at a closed-door hearing on May 2.

It also asked several senior national security figures in the previous administration to appear for an open hearing after May 2: former CIA director John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James Clapper and ex-deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

Comey and Rogers testified in an open hearing late last month. At the time, Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating whether President Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election.

The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation exploring how Russia covertly sought to influence the American presidential election on Trump’s behalf. Such investigations are heavily classified and the committee asked Comey and Rogers to return to testify in a closed session.

The invitations come two weeks after House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes stepped aside as the Republican leader of the House investigation into Russian interference in November’s presidential election, after being criticized for compromising the probe in visits to Trump’s White House.

Nunes faced criticism from Democrats for seeking to turn the investigation away from Russia and toward Trump’s allegations that Barack Obama’s administration had abused its powers by spying on Trump and his advisors.

The probe is now headed by Mike Conaway, a seven-term Republican congressman from Texas tasked with restoring credibility to the bipartisan House investigation.

“Back on track,” tweeted congressman Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat, noting he sent the letters along with Conaway.

Nunes’s actions had cast a cloud over the investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential campaign and whether any Trump aides or associates collaborated with Moscow.

Two watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Nunes disclosed classified information from intelligence reports.

In January, US intelligence chiefs said Russian President Vladimir Putin had masterminded the hacking and disinformation campaign that aimed to damage Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton and tip the vote in favor of the real estate magnate.

Trump has repeatedly called that charge “fake news.”

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