Late into the third hour of Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, during which the FBI’s director confirmed the agency was investigating whether there was any “cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia, one Republican congressman attempted to discredit the media’s reporting on the topic.
“Is it possible that the New York Times was misled by individuals claiming to be current or former American officials?” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) asked.
When Comey said he could not answer that question, Wenstrup continued down the same path.
“Is it possible that a so-called ‘source’ to a media outlet may actually be a Russian advocate?” he asked. “Nothing to do with this story, but is it possible that a Russian surrogate could actually be the source that a newspaper is relying on?”
Comey again refused to confirm or deny the source of a specific article, saying only: “In general, sure. Somebody could always be pretending to be something they’re not.”
The New York Times article in question disclosed to the public that several members of Trump’s presidential campaign and inner circle had phone conversations and other communications with Russian officials that were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The New York Times, asked by TPM for comment, said: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and veracity of our sources. In fact, anyone who reads our coverage will see that Mr. Comey confirmed our reporting.”
This piece has been updated.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.