House Intelligence Committee to hold first public hearing on Russia probe on March 20

House Intel Committee to hold Russia hearing on March 20

The House Intelligence Committee will hold its first public hearing this month on the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The committee's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters Tuesday it will take place on March 20. He said he wants to hold public hearings on the politically charged issue in the interest of openness.

FBI Director James Comey, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are expected to be invited.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed meddling in the presidential election to damage faith in the electoral process and harm then-candidate Hillary Clinton, eventually developing a preference for President Donald Trump.

The president has called any allegations of ties between his campaign and Moscow a politically charged witch hunt. He has argued that information leaks from his administration are more significant than the reports that they fuel.

Nunes said Tuesday he does not believe that Russia helped to elect Trump. The congressman previously said U.S. intelligence officials have not given the committee any evidence of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence.

Top Trump officials have recently played defense over their contacts with Russian officials. Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned last month after the White House said he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., before Trump took office. Trump has defended Flynn holding those conversations, but said his advisor betrayed Pence's trust.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions then said this month he would step back from any investigations related to the Trump campaign after it was revealed that he talked to Kislyak before the election. Sessions told senators during his January confirmation hearing that he did not have contact with Russian officials. He later clarified that statement, saying he misunderstood the question and that he met with Kislyak in his capacity as a then-senator on the Armed Services Committee.

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