Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:
- Trump to give green light to Keystone pipeline project
- House GOP leaders postponed a vote on their health plan until Friday
- White House acknowledges it doesn't yet have the votes to pass healthcare bill
- Claims of surveillance of Trump transition team raises far-reaching questions
- Senate Democrats plan filibuster to try to block Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court
- Obama defends Affordable Care Act as Republicans try to repeal it
- The Trump transition team's communications were swept up in U.S. spying, lawmaker says
After more than five hours of testimony by FBI Director James B. Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to a House committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, we can point to five key takeaways.
Most of it is bad news for the Trump administration.
1) Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that not only was the FBI investigating Russian interference in the campaign but he also dropped this bombshell: FBI agents are probing potential "coordination" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This investigation could lead to criminal charges.
Comey's exact statement (emphasis added):
"I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed."
2) There was no wiretapping of Trump Tower by President Obama or anyone else. On March 4, Trump tweeted explosive accusations that his predecessor had ordered wiretapping of his phones in Trump Tower.
Comey refuted the claims in this way:
"With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," Comey testified. "The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets."
He later pointed out that no president has the authority to order a wiretap. It requires a warrant from a special panel of judges.
3) Rogers rejected the possibility that British spies had eavesdropped on Trump Tower at Obama's request, as the White House suggested last week.
On Thursday, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, cited a claim by a Fox News commentator that British intelligence had spied on Trump before his inauguration to keep "American fingerprints" off the surveillance.
The British signals agency, known as GCHQ, issued a rare and angry denial. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May also denied the allegation, and the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., complained to the White House.
Trump last week declined to withdraw the allegation during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and referred reporters to Fox News for comment. Fox News later said it had no evidence "full stop" to support the commentator's claim.
Here is the exchange between Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the ranking member of the committee, and Rogers:
"Director Rogers, in an effort to explain why there was no evidence supporting the president's claim that Obama had wiretapped him, the president and his spokesman, Sean Spicer, have suggested that British intelligence through its NSA or GCHQ wiretapped Mr. Trump on President Obama's behalf," Schiff asked. "Did you ever request that your counterparts in GCHQ should wiretap Mr. Trump on behalf of President Obama?"
"No sir, nor would I," Rogers said, adding that such a request "would be expressly against the construct" of an agreement between the U.S. and its closest allies "that's been in place for decades."
Rogers added that the allegation "frustrates a key ally of ours" and was "not helpful."
4) Two hearings were occurring at the same time. Democrats pressed for details about ties between Russian officials and Trump's current and former aides, and sought to lay out an elaborate but circumstantial case of potential nefarious activity by the Trump campaign.
Republicans didn't rush to defend Trump. They instead sought to redirect the hearing's focus onto another potential crime: leaking of classified material.
They spent a great deal of time probing Comey and Rogers about disclosures of classified material to news organizations that led, in part, to the ouster of Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
News reports last month revealed that Flynn had spoken several times to the Russian ambassador in December, including about U.S. sanctions on Russia, and had misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations.
"We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the committee chairman.
"I thought it was against the law to disseminate classified information," agreed Rep.Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) during a long stretch of queries about the nature of the leaks and the consequences for the leakers and the nation.
Comey and Rogers both said leaking of classified information was a serious offense but they declined to reveal any details about probes into unauthorized disclosures of classified material.
5) Comey and Rogers stood by a U.S. intelligence community report released in early January that concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorized meddling in the election to undermine U.S. democracy, to harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and to boost Trump's chances.
"They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him," Comey said, adding that "Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that .. he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much."