Updated 4:26 PM ET, Wed March 29, 2017
It is just the latest development in the ever-evolving saga about alleged Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election. CNN has compiled a list of the growing and diverse cast characters at the start of a critical week of hearings for Senate investigators looking into Russia’s actions and its possible ties to Trump associates.
Several US lawmakers and agency heads have emerged as visible, and at times controversial, figures in the investigations into connections between individuals in Trump’s orbit and Russian hacking of Democratic Party groups including the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta.
James Comey —
The FBI director seems to have a knack for finding himself in the middle of high-profile political controversies. Months after weathering criticism from both parties over his handling of the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, Comey once again is front and center in another political storm. Most recently, he dropped a bombshell
before the House Intelligence Committee when he told lawmakers last week that the bureau was investigating not only Russian hacking and other alleged interference in the 2016 vote, but whether there was any coordination between Trump figures and Moscow as part of its intrusions.
Mike Rogers —Late last year
, Rogers was simultaneously a candidate to be promoted to Director of National Intelligence under President-elect Trump and on the hot seat to be fired as director of the National Security Agency by then-President Barack Obama. Eventually, Rogers remained in his role as the director of the NSA under Trump and now finds himself among those agency heads testifying before Congress as an authority on cybersecurity as it relates to hacks by suspect Russian-relate groups.
Rogers played a key role in last week’s House hearing with Comey when he joined the FBI director in refuting Trump’s claim that Obama had had his phones tapped during the campaign. He in particular batted down the notion that the Obama administration requested that the British eavesdrop on Trump, an unfounded assertion made on Fox News cited by the Trump White House.
Sally Yates — A holdover from the Obama administration, the most memorable moment of Yates’ short tenure as acting Attorney General may have been her firing in the early days of the Trump administration after she refused to implement the President’s orders barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Yates also briefed Trump’s White House counsel on former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, communications that ultimately led to Flynn’s resignation. Her scheduled testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on ties between Russian agents and Trump campaign officials was abruptly cancelled by committee Chairman Devin Nunes. The White House rejected allegations that it had sought to prevent Yates from testifying
James Clapper —
The director of national intelligence under Obama has never been shy in offering criticism of Trump, clashing with him over the latter’s public disparagement of intelligence officers, wiretapping allegations
and views on Russian hacking. Clapper, along with Comey and then-CIA Director John Brennan, briefed Trump on Russian hacking during the election campaign just hours after the President-elect doubled down on his dismissal of the threat as an artificial and politically driven controversy, calling it a “witch hunt.” He has also had been invited to testify by Congress.
Devin Nunes —
The man charged with leading the House’s investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election has been a particular focus of controversy
in recent weeks. Nunes worked on Trump’s transition team, publically supported Flynn just hours before his resignation as national security adviser and downplaying Trump’s wiretapping allegations against Obama by suggesting they shouldn’t be taken literally.
Nunes particularly provoked Democrats after he disclosed evidence to the press and White House — before informing Democrats on his committee — that the Trump team’s communications may have been picked up in “incidental” collections by US surveillance of conversations with foreign nationals who were being lawfully monitored. That was seen as a move to bolster Trump’s claims of having been wiretapped. The news Monday that Nunes met his source on White House grounds the day before he briefed Trump sparked the latest round of partisan fighting and has left investigators unable to continue right now. Now, Nunes is facing calls to step down as chairman amid questions as to whether he can conduct an impartial investigation. He told CNN Tuesday morning, however, that he was “moving forward” with the investigation.
Credit to / Read more @