Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware released a statement accusing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer of mischaracterizing comments he made earlier this month about p
otential collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News on March 5 that he while had “no hard evidence of collusion” between the campaign and the Russians, “I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump’s financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials.”
During a White House press briefing on Monday, however, Spicer only quoted Coons as saying “there is no evidence of collusion.”
Coons wrote that he was “disappointed” that Spicer “today mischaracterized” his comments, adding that “there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests collusion may have occurred.”
“For Mr. Spicer’s sake, let me be clear once again: Though I have not seen specific evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests collusion may have occurred, including confirmation just this morning that the FBI is investigating potential collusion between the campaign and Russian officials,” Coons said.
FBI Director James Comey confirmed during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday that an investigation into Russia’s election-related meddling “included” an examination of contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.
“I have been authorised by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI is investigating Russia’s interference in the US election,” Comey said, which “includes whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russian efforts. This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed. I can not say more about whose conduct we are investigating.”
Coons, in his statement, added that the “firings of Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn over troubling ties to Russia to the President’s refusal to release his tax returns and his unfounded accusation that he was ‘wire tapped’ by President Obama, President Trump and his team have refused every opportunity to allay concerns of inappropriate Russian ties. Indeed, they have fostered those concerns, knowingly or not.”
“Mr. Spicer would do well to quote me accurately and fully in the future,” Coons wrote.
Comey also disputed on Monday Trump’s explosive claim that Obama had wiretapped him, saying there was “no evidence to support” that accusation.
“No individual can direct electronic surveillance of anyone,” Comey said, adding that “no president could” unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone.
“We don’t have any evidence or information that supports those tweets,” he said.
The White House said on Monday that Trump would not withdraw his allegations.
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