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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."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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