Top congressman defends Russia investigation: 'There is circumstantial evidence of collusion'
Democratic representative Adam Schiff defended the House Intelligence Committee's continued investigation into ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russian operatives to NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday.
"There is circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff told Todd on "Meet the Press.""There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that's where we begin the investigation."
Republican representative Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, denied the existence of evidence against the Trump campaign.
"I'll give you a very simple answer: no," he said Sunday on Fox
Senior intelligence officials, like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , have also denied that there is evidence pointing to collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
"I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don't think you can make that claim categorically as he did," Schiff told Todd in response to Clapper's assertion.
"There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation," he said. "The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more."The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing Monday focusing on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"I think people need to understand we are in a global war of ideas," Schiff said. "It's not communism versus capitalism but it is authoritarianism versus democracy and Putin is very much at the vanguard of that autocratic movement, and that ought to concern all of us."
Schiff also addressed President Trump's unfounded claim that former president Barack Obama had him wiretapped in Trump Tower.
There is "no evidence to support the president's claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor," Schiff said, responding to comments made by Republican senator Susan Collins, who said she wanted to "get to the bottom of [the wiretapping claim] before saying what should be done."
"I have a lot of respect for Susan Collins but I have to differ with her on this - 'We need to get to the bottom of this.' We are at the bottom. There is nothing at the bottom," Schiff countered.
Officials have said they've been unable to find any evidence thus far that Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped. FBI Director James Comey, who will appear at the House Intelligence Committee's hearing tomorrow, asked the Department of Justice to reject Trump's claim , which it did not do.
"I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the president said was just patently false, and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our German allies," Schiff said.He added: "It's continuing to grow in terms of damage and he needs to put an end to this."