Mar 20, 2017

FBI confirms investigation on alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is underway.

The key takeaways: FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating possible links and coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russia. He also said the FBI has "looked carefully" and found "no information" that supports Trump's allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower.

Other highlights from Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers:

  • FBI investigation began in July, Congressional leaders only notified recently due to "sensitivity" of investigation.
  • Comey on Russia interference in 2016: "They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him," the Kremlin hacked with "loudness" — as if they wanted to be discovered. He noted that there is "no evidence" that Russia manipulated vote tallies.
  • Both Comey and Rogers agree "Russia is our adversary." Comey adds: "They want to resist us, oppose us, undermine us.... They'll be back in 2020, they may be back in 2018."
  • Comey on why Putin liked Trump: prefers working with business leaders, Trump criticized NATO and backed Brexit.
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy grilled Comey about sensitive leaks, and hinted that reporters should face prosecution for publishing them. Comey agreed that such leaks were "a serious crime" but wouldn't say whether FBI is investigating them.
  • Comey calls the recent leaking "unusually active". Much that ends up in the media "is dead wrong," he said, "which is one of the challenges because we don't correct it."
  • Rogers said WH allegations that the UK helped wiretap Trump were "utterly ridiculous," adding it "clearly frustrates an ally of ours."
  • Comey, when asked if he's ever engaged in McCarthyism (per Trump's tweets): "I try very hard not to engage in any -isms of any kind."

Meanwhile, a Senior Trump administration official told NBC's Hallie Jackson: "Nothing has changed. Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion... Obama's CIA director said so. Obama's Director of National Intelligence said so. We take them at their word."

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Trump's new purge

Michael Atkinson, arrives in October for closed-door questioning about the whistleblower complaint. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sources close to President Trump expect him to fire more inspectors general across his government.

What they're saying: Conservative allies of the president have told him that these IGs are members of the “deep state” trying to undermine him. Trump appears to have embraced that view.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 1,140,327 — Total deaths: 60,887 — Total recoveries: 233,930Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 278,568 — Total deaths: 7,163 — Total recoveries: 9,920Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state has opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: A pivotal Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Military updates: Senators call for independent investigation into the firing of Navy captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. The U.S. military is struggling to find new recruits as enlistment stations are shut down.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York reports record 630 deaths in 24 hours

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths in one day.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S., killing more than 7,100 people in total, and over 1,000 in 24 hours alone. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 49 mins ago - Health