House Committee Hosts Public Hearing Into Russia Election Interference
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Maybe we will learn today whether the FBI is actively investigating Russia, its interference in our presidential election and whether anyone associated with President Trump may have been involved. We assume that's one question FBI Director James Comey will be asked before the House Intelligence Committee today. This is the first public hearing the committee will hold on all this. Congressman Frank LoBiondo is a Republican from New Jersey and a senior member of that committee. He's on line.
Congressman, welcome to the program.
FRANK LOBIONDO: Yes. Good morning, David.
GREENE: So what will be your first question to the director of the FBI?
LOBIONDO: Well, let me just preface and say that you mentioned this is an open session. So there are three investigations that are going on with the House Intelligence, the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee. The House and the Senate are totally bipartisan. But a lot of the sources and methods and particular details about individuals probably are going to be classified and may not come out in the session. But...
GREENE: So will there be something separate, like a separate session you guys will have?
LOBIONDO: Well, sure. We will be meeting on an ongoing and very regular basis in closed session, which most of our meetings are.
LOBIONDO: This is pretty unusual to have an open session. But because of the interest and nature of this, that's why it's an open session to start off with.
GREENE: Well, a lot of us in the public don't even know exactly what the FBI is doing, what they're investigating exactly. Do you?
LOBIONDO: Well, yes. (Laughter) They're investigating the whole situation. It's a thorough investigation covering all the details of Russian active measures that are targeting the 2016 election campaign. The investigation will go wherever it leads, and Comey will probably be saying that today.
GREENE: Wherever it leads, you say - and does that include any possible involvement by people involved in Donald Trump's campaign - that they're...
GREENE: They're looking into that? You can tell us that with certainty?
LOBIONDO: Yes. It'll - wherever it leads means any individual, any situation, any circumstance that needs to be followed up with - and that's where it probably gets into the classified end of this. But it is open-ended.
GREENE: Based on what you know so far, has there been any involvement of those who have an association with Donald Trump and his campaign with Russia?
LOBIONDO: Well, we know that the Russians meddled in our campaign and that one of the things we're hoping to find out is exactly how that took place and more details about that. But the outgoing CIA director for President Obama and the outgoing director of National Intelligence have said, while there was contact and there was involvement, they saw nothing criminal at the time they were leaving office. So part of the investigation that we're conducting is to dive deeper into this and see if there is anything else that they may have missed with an individual or a circumstance.
GREENE: Is that alone, though, serious to you - that people involved with Donald Trump's campaign would have had contact with Russia while Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential election?
LOBIONDO: Well, if they were talking about anything political, absolutely.
GREENE: And do you know if they were?
LOBIONDO: Well, at this point, the answer was nothing has demonstrated that they were talking about anything political.
GREENE: Let me ask you about this charge from President Trump that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Your fellow Republican Committee Chairman Devin Nunes says no evidence of that - many people saying no evidence of that. It's probably going to come up today. Is that a distraction from more important stuff?
LOBIONDO: I think it is. I think it's an unfortunate distraction. And I agree with Chairman Nunes. There is no evidence demonstrating that there was a wiretap. What - now, was there something incidental that there was some listening on the Russians that somehow touched on that? I mean, it's possible. I expect Director Comey to be dealing with that this morning. And I don't expect it to take a lot of time because I don't think there's any evidence anything went on.
GREENE: OK. We've been speaking to Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo from the state of New Jersey. He's a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, which will be holding its first public hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election later today.
Congressman, thank you so much.
GREENE: OK. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.