It was over five hours of odd metaphors, logical fallacies, and dark accusations, but the House Intelligence Committee hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, starring FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, ended with no substantial revelations.
The only news was the confirmation of a previously reported FBI investigation, which began in July.
While ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others did their best Joe McCarthy impression, the show was stolen by Representative Denny Heck (D-WA), who claimed the entire affair was an “inside job” and that the “attack” by Russia was akin to 9/11.
Meanwhile, Republicans focused on leaks of classified intercepts that led to former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s firing for lying about his communication with the Russian government. Republican committee member Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said it was going to be harder to reauthorize NSA spying powers in the wake of a leak that targeted an American citizen. He said leaking information was a criminal offense that warranted 20 years imprisonment.
Flynn was caught in an intelligence operation targeting Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when they communicated via phone. A transcript of the intercepted call was illegally leaked to The Washington Post. In theory, Flynn’s identity could only have been “unmasked” by a select few individuals.
One name floated by both Representative Gowdy and Representative Peter King (R-NY) was former CIA Director John Brennan, who has long had an acrimonious relationship with Flynn and publicly feuded with President Trump.
FBI Director Comey confirmed the bureau was investigating claims that there had been collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence services, but he would not go into further detail and state whether the FBI had found evidence.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper already said he found no evidence of collusion and former CIA director and Clinton campaign supported Mike Morrell echoed Clapper. Morrell said that while there was smoke, there was “no fire,” and the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians.
Both Comey and Rogers also said they found no evidence that President Obama ever “wiretapped” Trump Tower, a wild accusation President Trump made on Twitter weeks ago, which he continues to stand by.