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Democrats are irked with FBI director after briefing on Russian hacking of election

James Comey has drawn ire of Democrats. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
James Comey has drawn ire of Democrats. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

Democrats expressed deep frustration Friday with FBI Director James B. Comey after he gave them a confidential briefing on Russian election hacking.

"Members have a lot of profound questions about whether he is applying a completely different standard when it comes to acknowledging a potential investigation of the Trump campaign and whether it exists or not, and his willingness to discuss one into Hillary Clinton just 11 days before the election," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, who attended the session.

The FBI and intelligence officials believe the Russian government orchestrated cyber attacks in the hopes of hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton and helping President-elect Donald Trump, and Comey and top intelligence officials trooped to Capitol Hill Friday morning to brief lawmakers on their findings.

Democrats, Republicans, Trump's Cabinet picks and now even the president-elect support the assessment that the Russians were behind embarrassing hacks of the Democratic National Committee's computer system an email account used by John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he now thought Russia was behind the cyber attacks after weeks of questioning the intelligence community's assessment.

Comey's briefing did nothing to allay Democrats' concerns that he was willing to release information about Clinton but so far has refused to divulge any details about a potential Trump-related investigation.

The Democrats' frustration "has less to do with any dispute about the Russians' hacking of the election and more to do with whether director has employed double standard discussing investigations," said Schiff.

The Justice Department Inspector General announced Thursday that his office was launching a sweeping probe into the FBI, including allegations that Comey violated guidelines by discussing the Clinton investigation.

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