Former FBI director James Comey argued on Sunday that the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on 2016 Russian interference "blows up" President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr's claims that the FBI's Russia investigation was unjustified and a "hoax."

Why it matters: The 966-page bipartisan report, which goes into more detail than the Mueller report, found that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort passed sensitive internal polling data and strategy to a Russian intelligence officer who may have been involved in the hacking of Democratic emails.

The big picture: Barr has tapped veteran prosecutor John Durham to conduct a sweeping investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe, which Trump and his allies have long claimed was a political hit job engineered by Comey and other Obama-era officials.

  • That investigation netted its first criminal charge last week from Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email used to obtain a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
  • Former CIA director John Brennan was interviewed by Durham on Friday and informed that he was neither a subject nor a target of the investigation, according to a spokesperson. Comey said on Sunday that he has had "no contact" with Durham and "can't imagine" that he is a target of the probe.

What he's saying: "The Senate Intelligence Committee was looking at all information they could gather. Mueller was approaching it as a prosecutor, trying to see what evidence he could bring into court to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt," Comey said on CBS News' "Face the Nation.

  • "So the Senate Intelligence Committee could look much more broadly, and as you said, came to this conclusion that the head of Trump's campaign was funneling information to a Russian intelligence officer — someone he likely knew was a Russian intelligence officer."
  • "Let that sink in, and ask yourself: So there was nothing to investigate here, as Bill Barr said? It was a hoax? The Republicans have exploded that nonsense."

Between the lines: The Senate report was also critical of the FBI and its failures to alert the Democratic National Committee of the full threat of the Russian interference effort. Comey acknowledged that this is "fair criticism."

  • Asked why he never considered the scenario of Russian interference as FBI director, Comey responded, "I don't know why. It didn't occur to us that the Russians were doing something they had never done before, which is to weaponize and actually fire stolen material at our democratic process."
  • "Looking back in hindsight, it seems obvious. I don't know the answer as to why nobody in the intelligence community, none of the analysts, saw this coming."

Go deeper: Top Democrat says Senate Intel Committee voted 14-1 to pass Russia report

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Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.

Engel drops subpoena against Pompeo after receiving records on Hunter Biden probe

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, withdrew a subpoena and contempt threat against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, after the State Department gave the committee more than 16,000 pages of records related to a probe into Hunter Biden's work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Why it matters: House Democrats sought the documents to understand the direction of the Senate Homeland Security Committee's investigation into Hunter Biden led by Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who plans to release a report on the investigation before the election.

Susan Collins says Senate should postpone Supreme Court vote

Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday she believes whoever is elected in the 2020 presidential race should pick the nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat.

Why it matters: Collins will be key in how the nomination process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.