The FBI may have lost Hillary Clinton the election with an announcement in the final days of campaigning – but failed to announce that it was looking into damning rumours about Donald Trump.
FBI director James Comey has revealed that the agency has been secretly looking into reports that Russia meddled in the results of the 2016 election to help Mr Trump win, and that there may be links between associates of the President and Russia. That investigation has been ongoing since July, long before election, he confirmed.
But immediately, many pointed out that the FBI chose to keep that investigation secret until many months after the election.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/9 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/9 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC. Mr Trump issued a presidential memorandum in January announcing that the US would withdraw from the trade deal
3/9 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. A signature campaign promise, Mr Trump outlined his intention to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border days after taking office
4/9 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House. Mr Trump reinstated a ban on American financial aide being granted to non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, provide abortion referrals, or advocate for abortion access outside of the United States
5/9 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
6/9 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. US President Donald Trump's effort to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace the healthcare law failed when Republicans failed to get enough votes. Mr Trump has promised to revisit the matter
7/9 Donald Trump and 'sanctuary cities'
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January threatening to pull funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" if they do not comply with federal immigration law
8/9 Trump and the travel ban
US President Donald Trump has attempted twice to restrict travel into the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. The first attempt, in February, was met with swift opposition from protesters who flocked to airports around the country. That travel ban was later blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The second ban was blocked by a federal judge a day before it was scheduled to be implemented in mid-March
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images
9/9 Trump and climate change
US President Donald Trump sought to dismantle several of his predecessor's actions on climate change in March. His order instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the Clean Power Plan, which would cap power plant emissions
That was in direct contrast with the announcement just days before polls opened that the FBI had found more emails as part of a probe into Hillary Clinton's communications. That revelation shocked the US, and has been credited with helping Donald Trump win the election and become president.
It's not clear why the FBI chose to reveal the update on Hillary Clinton's investigation while keeping secret information that could have had a far more significant impact on Mr Tump's campaign. Both announcements were extraordinary and historic, something that Mr Comey acknowledged during the congressional hearing into Russian meddling and the potential connections between Moscow and Mr Trump's campaign.
The hearing, providing the most extensive public accounting of a matter that has dogged the Trump administration for its first two months, quickly broke along partisan lines. Democrats pressed for details on the status of the FBI's investigation, while Republicans repeatedly focused on news coverage and possible improper disclosures of classified information developed through surveillance.
Under questioning from the committee's top Democrat, Adam Schiff, the FBI director also publicly contradicted a series of tweets from Trump that declared the Republican candidate's phones had been ordered tapped by President Barack Obama during the campaign.
"I have no confirmation that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," Comey said. The same was true, he added, of the Justice Department.
Mr Comey was the latest government official to reject Trump's claims, made without any evidence, that Obama had wiretapped his New York skyscraper during the campaign. Devin Nunes, a California Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, also rejected it earlier in the hearing.
Mr Comey was testifying along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, who also disputed allegations that surfaced last year that British intelligence services were involved in the wiretapping.
Mr Trump took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates' contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.
"The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!" Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning's cable news.
Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton's campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats' computers in a bid to help Trump's election bid.
Monday's hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.
The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president's New York City headquarters.
But the panel's ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow's efforts to interfere in the presidential election.
"There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception," Schiff said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''There's certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation."
Nunes said: "For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses."
"We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They're also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.
Though Comey would not discuss specific evidence, he went far beyond his testimony from a hearing in January, when he refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI's longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work.
His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.
Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton's email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content