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FBI head Comey says no evidence of Trump wiretapping claim

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FBI Director James Comey waits before testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The head of the FBI said on Monday he had seen no evidence to support a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that former president Barack Obama had wiretapped his 2016 election campaign.

Before FBI Director James Comey began his testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Republican chairman Devin Nunes said it was possible other means of surveillance had been used against Trump.

The committee is investigating accusations that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election by hacking Democratic operatives and releasing embarrassing information. The surveillance allegation became an issue when Trump earlier this month accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in New York, which housed the campaign headquarters for the Republican’s surprise election win against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets,” Comey told the congressional hearing.

“And we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components: the department has no information that supports those tweets,” he said.

Comey also confirmed the agency is investigating possible Russian government efforts to interfere in the election, including any links between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Russia denies it attempted to influence the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Nunes had opened the hearing by denying Trump’s wiretapping claim but did not rule out other surveillance methods.

“We know there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower,” he said. “However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Bill Trott)

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