Appearing before a Senate committee on Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey suggested there may be some truth to explosive allegations that Russian operatives may have personal and financial information about President Donald Trump that could be used against him.
In early January, intelligence chiefs presented a two-page summary of a larger dossier authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to then-President Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The dossier — some details of which were circulated throughout the media around that time — outlined allegations that Russian officials had compromising information about Trump, among other things.
Shortly thereafter, BuzzFeed published the full unverified dossier, which offered far greater detail about those allegations.
Steele himself has since stated that the full dossier was never meant for public consumption, and contained allegations that were never verified. But in the weeks since, the U.S. intelligence community has lent credence to some of the details from that dossier. And during his testimony on Thursday, Comey suggested the bureau hasn’t ruled out some of the criminal allegations outlined in the dossier.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Comey about the dossier and the allegations contained within. “At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the Steele document?”
“Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation,” said Comey, a response that seemed to catch Burr off guard.
Comey’s public testimony is scheduled to be followed by a closed session hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee where classified information can be more explicitly shared with the committee’s members.