America’s intelligence chiefs sat down with members of Congress behind closed doorways on Friday for what they thought could be an easy briefing on Russian cyberattacks. What ensued as a substitute was a confrontation Democrats have lengthy sought with James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Why, the Home Democrats demanded to know, did Mr. Comey imagine it was O.Okay. to make repeated disclosures through the marketing campaign concerning the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails however to today refuse to say if the F.B.I. is investigating hyperlinks between the Trump marketing campaign and Russia?
His solutions didn’t show very satisfying. Consultant Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority chief, grew so annoyed that at one level she chastised Mr. Comey for being “condescending to members.”
Consultant Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who was chairwoman of the Democratic Nationwide Committee when it was hacked, requested why Mr. Comey had by no means known as her concerning the intrusions, which started in August 2015 and continued over the course of many months. The F.B.I. notified the committee of the unique hacking, however reached a low-level tech assist contractor and went backwards and forwards with him for months earlier than the management of the group was knowledgeable and took steps to halt the intrusion.
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The committee and the bureau have blamed one another for the delay, and the sample continued on Friday, in accordance with a number of Democrats within the assembly.
Afterward, Consultant Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, known as the tenor of the exchanges “contentious at occasions.”
“I don’t wish to go into the contents of what have been mentioned,” Mr. Schiff mentioned. However “a terrific many members are involved with whether or not the director has employed a double customary.”
The listening to passed off a day after the Justice Division’s inspector basic mentioned it was investigating Mr. Comey’s determination through the marketing campaign to carry a information convention saying the tip of the case — after which, simply earlier than the election, inform Congress there was potential new proof solely to say days later that it didn’t quantity to something.
Mr. Comey “didn’t actually reply,” mentioned Consultant Jerold Nadler of New York. He dismissively referred to Mr. Comey as “a policeman,” and added, “I don’t keep in mind something substantive he mentioned.”
The response to the evaluation by intelligence companies that Russia sought to advertise the candidacy of Donald J. Trump has been combined. Mr. Trump has seen it as undermining his electoral victory and ridiculed the companies, accusing them this week of utilizing leaks to discredit him after it briefed him on a file of unsubstantiated studies of compromising private data the Russians allegedly collected.
However on Friday, Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and the panel’s vice chairman, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, introduced that the committee would maintain hearings on the Russian exercise and its impact on the election.
Earlier than Russians have been a difficulty, there was the F.B.I. investigation into whether or not Mrs. Clinton or her aides mishandled categorised data that was in emails on a personal server she was utilizing.
Mr. Comey mentioned the investigation and sharply criticized Mrs. Clinton at a information convention saying that no expenses could be introduced towards her. He additionally wrote two letters close to the tip of the marketing campaign that Clinton supporters say value her the election. However Mr. Comey has not publicly commented on whether or not there are any open investigations of Mr. Trump or anybody related along with his marketing campaign.
Democrats mentioned the closest Mr. Comey got here on Friday to providing a proof for his actions was to say he would solely disclose an ongoing investigation if the general public had an amazing have to find out about it or if it was apparent there was one underway. He mentioned he didn’t imagine any potential investigation into Trump or his associates met both customary.
The F.B.I.’s place is that it doesn’t talk about counterintelligence investigations that might compromise necessary strategies and sources.
Talking to reporters afterward, Ms. Pelosi mentioned that “actually, the American persons are owed the reality.”
“There’s a substantial amount of proof to say that this is a matter of excessive curiosity to the American folks,” she continued. “For that cause, the F.B.I. ought to tell us whether or not they’re doing that investigation or not. They’re often inscrutable.”
The F.B.I. declined to touch upon the assembly.
Mr. Nadler mentioned he thought Mr. Comey ought to have been fired “months in the past.” Different Democrats, maybe involved about who Mr. Trump would identify to exchange Mr. Comey, both mentioned that he ought to stay on the job or that they have been nonetheless not sure.
The assembly within the auditorium of the Capitol’s customer heart was standing room solely. Some Republicans unsurprisingly had a distinct response.
“Their questions and feedback appeared to make the case that Hillary Clinton could be president if it weren’t for hacking,” Consultant Steve King of Iowa mentioned.
Mr. King left the assembly unconvinced concerning the Russian hacking, which the intelligence chiefs did handle to debate amid the questions on Mr. Comey’s conduct.
The congressman added that he thought “some” intelligence officers have been reliable. However “not all. Folks there have to be rooted out,” he mentioned with out elaborating.