Allegations of Russian influence on the US presidential election stretch all the way back before the midyear Democratic National Convention, when hackers spear-phished officials and released documents through WikiLeaks.
Revelations about Russian hackers continued to surface through the months leading up to and following the November election. That includes the top-secret NSA report leaked on Monday, detailing how nation-state actors launched cyberattacks against an election software company, whose technology was used in eight states, and tried spear-phishing election officials.
"There was a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental agencies, like nonprofits," Comey said. He noted that there could be hundreds, and possibly more than 1,000 officials who were targeted in the cyberattacks from Russia.
Comey told the Senate committee that the FBI never examined the DNC's hacked devices directly, but received proper intelligence from a third-party (likely Crowdstrike).
Russia's 'overwhelming technical efforts'
The ex-FBI director noted that there was strong evidence Russian hackers wanted to interfere with the presidential outcome.
"They did it with overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of the government," Comey said. "That's about as un-fake news as you can possibly get."
"He described the Russian investigation as 'a cloud' that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country," Comey said in his statement, regarding a March 30 conversation with Trump. "He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia."
"I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in," Comey said.
Comey confirmed that Trump wasn't under investigation when he served as the FBI director.
On Friday morning, Trump weighed in on the hearings via Twitter, with a single tweet indicating a sense of relief. "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
During the testimony, Comey explained that he started compiling memos of his interactions with Trump because he felt that "something big" was going to happen and he "needed to document it."
He also commented on a tweet that the president sent out three days after Comey was fired.
"I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey said.
You can read Comey's full opening statement here:
First published June 8 at 7:50 a.m. PT. Updated June 8 at 8:34 a.m. PT and 9:49 a.m. PT:Includes more comments from James Comey and reaction by Donald Trump Jr.., along with further details about President Trump.
Updated June 9 at 5:28 a.m. PT: Added President Trump's Twitter reaction..
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