US House panel to probe alleged Trump-Russia links

The House Intelligence Committee has agreed on parameters of its investigation of alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported the three main intelligence agencies - the CIA, FBI and NSA - all had "high confidence" that Russia's goal was to "undermine public faith in the United States democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency [and that] Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump".

The New York Times on February 14 reported that federal investigators have evidence that at least three former Trump campaign advisers communicated with members of the Russian government prior to the election.

USA intelligence agencies concluded that Russian Federation tried to influence the election by hacking people and institutions, including Democratic Party bodies.

"We have reached a written agreement, the minority and the majority in the House intelligence committee, that we will investigate allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign", Democratic Representative Adam Schiff told MSNBC on Wednesday.

But in a possible reference to his campaign pledge to seek warmer relations with Moscow, Trump said: "America is willing to find new friends and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align".

Democratic senators gave high marks Tuesday to former colleague Dan Coats in his bid to become the next director of national intelligence.

"One of the first challenges I would ask you to take head-on is to support our efforts to understand Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election ..." A "former senior American official" claims Sessions met with the Russian ambassador despite testimony before the Senate that he had no contact with the Russians.

Lawmakers voicing concern questioned Coats numerous times about whether President Trump would include the role as a principal member of the National Security Committee. Officials who spoke with the Times said they made sure to ask specific questions during intelligence briefings because they knew the answers would be archived, pushed as much "raw intelligence" as possible into analyses and ensured the information was kept at a "relatively low classification level" so it could be read by as many people as possible. "I can not go outside the bounds of my authority".

"I have no other obligation but to follow the law" on torture, he said. Flynn initially told Vice-President Mike Pence and other Trump advisers that he did not discuss sanctions with the envoy during the transition, though it was later revealed that he did.

However, considering the current White House team's drastic attempts to ensure that any unflattering story about Russian ties are buried - even using tactics that went against a decade of proper procedure - perhaps Obama's team had the right idea.

Gingrich said Trump should "take a lesson from the past" by appointing a "very smart, independent person" to investigate.

"I have full confidence that's the way it'll turn out", Coats said.

"We have heard different statements from President (Donald) Trump", Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

  • Annette Adams