Until yesterday, James Comey had been utterly silent regarding the FBI’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign. He had also been frustratingly unwilling to bat down Trump’s absurdist claim that Barrack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the run up to the election. When compared to Comey’s decision – against the Justice Department’s advice – to parade about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email issues just two weeks before the election (an investigation that ultimately cleared Clinton), many, with good reason, have questioned whether Comey can serve as an independent, apolitical investigator now that he serves at Trump’s leisure.
Finally, testifying before Congress yesterday, Comey for the first time admitted that the FBI was looking into Trump’s Russia ties. As reported by Politico: “The White House was knocked on the defensive Monday ahead of its biggest week yet on Capitol Hill as FBI Director James Comey confirmed the existence of an active investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, including whether there was any coordination with now-President Donald Trump’s team.”
He also stated in no uncertain terms that the FBI had no evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claims: “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
Admitting the existence of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties is an important first step. As is rebuking Trump’s Twitter attacks against former president Obama. Still, given his history with Trump, whether Comey will be able to lead an independent, thorough investigation into people at the highest levels of the Trump presidency remains an open question.