Two members of the San Antonio Congressional Delegation took their chances to ask some questions during Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing looking at Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
Democrat Joaquin Castro used his questions to try to connect the dots between a potentially embarrassing dossier that came to light earlier this year–and possible connections between Russia and the Trump Campaign.
“Director… can you describe to the American People the Russian concept of “kompromat?” Castro asked FBI Director James Comey, who responded “It’s a technique that they use to gather information on people that may be embarrassing or humiliating… and using it to coerce cooperation.”
Castro was pointing specifically at what is now known as the “Christopher Steele Dossier”… which contains a number of allegations that could be personally embarrassing to the President.
“Could you describe who Christopher Steele is?” Castro asked Comey, who answered with the short reply “No. I’m not going to comment on that.”
However, Castro walked Comey through a number of questions referencing the dossier in making his case that the techniques seemingly used by Russian operatives are plausible.
“A July 19, 2016 entry for example asserts the Russians were receiving intel from Trump’s team on Russian oligarchs and their families in the United States” Castro stated.
The Congressman later tried to tie one-time Trump Campaign Director Paul Manafort to the investigation–again drawing a short reply from the FBI Director.
Is Paul Manfort a subject in your investigation” Castro asked.
Comey’s reply: “I’m not going to comment on that.”
On the other side of the aisle, we know Congressman Will Hurd told ABC News over the weekend he believes President Trump should apologize to former President Obama for his allegations of wiretapping at Trump Tower during the Presidential Campaign.
But when it comes to Russian hacking of Democratic Party computers–Hurd said, suggesting the Democrats have not helped themselves at all.
“When did the DNC provide access to the FBI for your technical folks to review what happened?” Congressman Hurd asked Comey.
“We never got direct access to the machines themselves” Comey told Hurd, who followed up with “You still have never been given access to any of the technical or the physical machines that were hacked by the Russians?”
Comey’s response: “That’s correct… Although we got the forensics from the pros that they hired” though admitting that result is less than ideal when it comes to investigating just what happened.
In fact, Comey told Hurd he would have handled the situation a bit differently if he had known the extent of the hacking at the time he learned about it.
“We’d have sent up a much larger flare” Comey said.
In the end, Hurd said he is hopeful that a real, bi-partisan investigation in to what happened with the Russians during the Presidential Campaign will be carried out–and will come up with some real answers.
“The American People demand this… the future of our democratic institutions demand it” Hurd said after concluding his questions.