Cotton: Collusion allegations ‘unsubstantiated’; no evidence of wiretapping

Posted at 12:05 PM, Mar 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-19 14:05:16-04

By Eli Watkins


WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday previewed an upcoming House hearing on Russia’s meddling in the US election, saying FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Monday would address “unsubstantiated allegations” of dealings between Moscow and President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“I do think it’s important that we look at the broader context here,” Cotton said on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper. “The House committee hearing tomorrow is going to be in part about the unsubstantiated allegations in the media and by some Democrats of collusion between Trump associates and Russian intelligence.”

The House Intelligence Committee has called Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to testify about the administration’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the US election, which includes an examination of Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower in New York as well as any relationships between Russian officials and Trump’s associates.

Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he had not seen any evidence to back Trump’s wiretap claim, but he deflected a question from Tapper on whether the President should apologize to his predecessor if Comey says evidence for the President’s accusation is lacking.

“We’ll see what Director Comey testifies about,” Cotton said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on “Fox News Sunday” that, based on his briefing with the Department of Justice, “there never” were physical wiretaps of Trump Tower, adding that a classified report from the department on Friday bolstered his belief that Trump was “literally” wrong.

The California Republican also said there was “no evidence of collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.

In his CNN interview, Cotton cited former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who have both publicly stated they also have seen no evidence of any collusion.

The armed forces

Cotton, a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also touched on major military issues in the news.

Regarding the influx of Marines and other service members into Syria, Cotton did not advocate for a specific policy, but said, “I don’t think we ought to set arbitrary troop caps.”

The Arkansas Republican also called for the defeat of ISIS, but said the US needs to counter Iran, whose activities he blamed, in part, for the rise of ISIS.

“If we don’t roll back Iran’s gains throughout the region, we’re not going to have stability, and we’re not going to defend US interests to the degree that we should,” Cotton said.

The senator also called the nude photo scandal in the Marine Corps, in which photographs of service members were shared online, “extremely disappointing” and assured the public that those responsible would be identified and punished.

“I’m confident they’re going to hold every Marine accountable,” Cotton said.