By Cody Derespina, ,
Published March 20, 2017
Just hours before FBI Director James Comey is set to testify to Congress about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, President Trump on Monday morning again vociferously denied that he or his campaign had any involvement with Kremlin operatives in the run-up to the Nov. 8 vote.
Trump referenced recent statements made by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper -- an Obama administration pick -- to back up his denial of any wrongdoing during his upset win over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!” Trump tweeted.
He added: “The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!”
Trump also alleged contact between the Clinton campaign and Russian officials -- a charge the Clinton camp denies.
"What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?" Trump tweeted.
Trump has steadfastly maintained he never worked with Russian agents and has no knowledge of anyone in his orbit doing so. An intelligence report produced in January found that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to influence the U.S. election in Trump’s favor.
Clapper earlier this month said there was “no evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russia, a position repeated Sunday by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee that Comey will testify before at 10 a.m. Monday.
But Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member on the House Intelligence Committee, said “circumstantial” evidence existed.
“There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that’s where we begin the investigation,” Schiff said Sunday on “Meet The Press.”
But despite Schiff's view -- which is shared by many Democrats -- Trump tweeted Monday that Congress should drop the Russia probe and focus on who has been leaking classified and politically damaging stories about his administration.
"The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!" he tweeted.
Schiff responded to Trump in a series of tweets later Monday morning, telling the president the rationale for the hearings and adding: "Please stop."