Published: Fri, March 03, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

House Intelligence Panel To Probe Ties Between Trump Campaign and Russian Federation

House Intelligence Panel To Probe Ties Between Trump Campaign and Russian Federation

The Obama Administration was engaged in a heated, last-ditch effort to collect and preserve incriminating information regarding Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, as well as contacts between President-elect Donald Trump and the Russians, The NY Times reported on Thursday.

The US House of Representatives intelligence committee will investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation, the top Democrat on the panel has said.

Coats said he would cooperate fully with the committee's investigation into reports that the Russian government meddled in last year's USA presidential election by hacking into Democratic Party computers.

Without naming President Donald Trump in its announcement, the panel said it would look into "links between Russian Federation and individuals associated with political campaigns or any other U.S. Persons".

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper later told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia had stepped up its cyber espionage operations, but stopped short of declaring the Russian election hacking an "act of war". Trump said Tuesday that he hadn't "called Russian Federation in 10 years". In mid-February, the Wall Street Journal reported that intelligence officials and spies were keeping highly sensitive information from Trump for fear that he would leak it.

As Inauguration Day approached, Obama White House officials grew convinced that the intelligence was damning and that they needed to ensure that as many people as possible inside government could see it, even if people without security clearances could not.

Schiff called the investigation a national security necessity and said the committee must leave no stone unturned in order to protect the country and meet the expectations of the American people.

On Monday, Trump was asked if he would support a special prosecutor to investigate Russia's influence on last year's election.

American spies had also intercepted Russian communications in which officials, including some with the Kremlin, discussed contacts with the Trump team, the Times reported.

Mr. Coats, 73, who served on the intelligence panel himself for years prior to his retirement last year, appeared to win bipartisan backing with his answers Thursday, although it was not immediately clear when the committee or the full Senate may vote on his nomination. The information they smuggled out before the ash rained down shows that the connections between the Trump team and Russian Federation were even more numerous than expected.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, noted that Coats's easygoing nature might be his one detriment, asking the former senator if he was prepared to be "mean and tough" enough to stand up to Trump when necessary. He seeks to step into his role at a fraught time for United States intelligence after being on the sidelines as Trump's early national security policies and priorities have coalesced.

In the meantime, he said, he has "been assured that I have the authority to be a member of that committee and be at that committee in every one of its meetings". Sessions says the allegation false.

Coats, which Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Co.) recently told the New York Times was "the closest thing to Mister Rogers we would come up with" in the Senate was asked whether he had the backbone to lead the nation's intelligence agencies and present the president with dire information on the nation's looming threat of terror. Trump has said he will defer to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the issue of waterboarding, for instance (something the president said as a candidate that he believes "works").

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