The FBI director branded Russia the “greatest threat of any nation,” while answering questions at a Senate hearing on Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The White House has distanced itself from that view.
James Comey was answering a question on whether Russia represented a threat to the US “democratic process,” when he branded Russia the “greatest threat of any nation on Earth, given their intent and capability.”
“One of the biggest lessons learned is that Russia will do this again. Because of the 2016 election, they know it worked,” Comey also said at the Wednesday hearing, according to the Independent.
He would not provide any evidence to back the accusations.
The FBI investigation into alleged Russian interference into US elections was launched in March. While some Democrats praised Comey for the decision, others said that the investigation had come “too late.”
Ahead of the hearings US President Donald Trump went on Twitter with a sarcastic post, stating that “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton,” while the whole “Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election.”
After the hearings, the White House spokesman made it clear that Comey’s stance did not represent the official opinion of the president’s office.
“I think that’s the view of the FBI,” Sean Spicer said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday.
When asked whether Trump shared Comey’s opinion on Russia as the “greatest threat of any nation on Earth,” the spokesman chose to switch the subject to North Korea.
“The president has been very clear that he thinks the threat that North Korea poses with the potential nuclear weapon that has range capacity is something that he finds to be threatening to the lives of Americans and our allies,” Spicer added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no need for a separate comment on Comey’s remark, following what Spicer had said.
“My colleague in the White House has already commented [on this matter], I have nothing to add,” Peskov said on Thursday.
Moscow has repeatedly dismissed as groundless any accusations of hacking or otherwise meddling with the 2016 US presidential elections.
“Read my lips – No!”said Russian President Vladimir Putin in late March, when was asked if Moscow had meddled in the US election.
Peskov said in April that the “US public have been a target for severe anti-Russian propaganda” that made “the American people think that yes, Russian hackers are everywhere, in every fridge.”