Lawmakers offer clashing opinions on Russia questionhttp://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/19/politics/tom-cotton-fbi-russia/index
Story highlightsRep. Schiff and Sen. Cotton give opposing views on Russia questionRep. Nunes says "there never" were physical wiretaps of Trump Tower
Washington (CNN)Lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence panels offered clashing opinions Sunday on the FBI's investigation into whether President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian officials colluded in an effort to influence the US election ahead of a House hearing on the issue.House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he thought "there is circumstantial evidence of collusion" as well as "direct evidence" of deception."We need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more," said Schiff, of California.Schiff's remarks are at odds with the statements of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said two weeks ago that he had not seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.Comey confirms FBI investigating Russia, Trump ties"I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don't think you can make that claim as categorically as he did," Schiff said.Read MoreThe congressman's comments came as his committee prepares to take testimony from FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers about the administration's investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the US election as well as any relationships between Russian officials and Trump's associates.Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday previewed the upcoming House hearing, saying Comey's testimony would address "unsubstantiated allegations" of dealings between Moscow and President Donald Trump's campaign."I do think it's important that we look at the broader context here," Cotton said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. "The House committee hearing tomorrow is going to be in part about the unsubstantiated allegations in the media and by some Democrats of collusion between Trump associates and Russian intelligence."The US intelligence community has said Russia was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which it said were part of an effort to help Trump in the election. The Russian government has denied any wrongdoing.Donald Trump's words are catching up to his presidencyCNN and others have reported that current and former law enforcement, intelligence and administration officials have said there were communications between Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the campaign.Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as Trump's national security adviser following media reports about his post-election communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.However, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on "Fox News Sunday" that there was "no evidence of collusion" between Russia and the Trump campaign.In his CNN interview, Cotton cited Clapper and former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who have both publicly stated they also have seen no evidence of any collusion.Morell, who supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, emphatically denied a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia earlier this month."On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire," Morell said. "There's no little campfire. There's no little candle. There's no spark."