The FBI’s investigation into the 2016 election is going nowhere, FBI Director James Comey told Congress on Tuesday.
Comey said the bureau is focused on finding out who was responsible for the hacking and leaking of private and confidential information, and that he is “not in a position to speculate” on who may have had access to the data.
He said the FBI will not be investigating the role of Russian actors or other political operatives.
“I can’t speculate, frankly, on who was behind this,” Comey said during his first congressional testimony since the election.
Comey also said the U.S. government cannot rule out the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin or anyone else is responsible for this hacking.
“We can’t rule out, obviously, that Russia was involved,” he said.
Comey did not provide details on the scope of the investigation or its nature, but he noted that the investigation is being led by the U-S.
Intelligence Community and is part of the broader investigation into Russian interference in the election, cyberattacks on Democratic organizations and other matters.
“The FBI and I will be working to determine the scope and nature of this investigation, to understand what the Russians were doing and why they were doing it, and to make sure that we can do the right thing and that we’re not doing the wrong thing,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the first day of the special congressional election for Virginia’s 6th congressional district.
He was testifying at a time when President Donald Trump’s team has repeatedly sought to distance itself from the election hacking and the leaking of the emails that exposed the Democratic Party’s email system to the public.
Comey announced the investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s election in a written statement on Tuesday, saying he was “concerned about the conduct of Russian-directed actors in our election, including the disclosure of private information.”
The FBI has not formally named the Russian operatives behind the hack of Democratic Party emails.
However, the agency has publicly identified them as the GRU, or the GRNDL, a Russian military intelligence unit.
It is also known as the Russian Security Service, or SVR, or GRU.
The FBI announced in December that it had arrested a former Russian hacker in the U, and in January, a former senior Russian intelligence officer was arrested.
A second former SVR officer was also arrested in January.
The investigation into whether any Russian operatives participated in the cyberattack on Democratic Party organizations is ongoing, the FBI said in a statement.
Comey was not asked about the investigation during the hearing.
He previously said in January that the FBI is “very confident” that the hacking of Democratic groups’ emails was carried out by Russia.
“This is an ongoing investigation, but we believe that it was done by the Russians,” Comey wrote in the letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
He also said in his letter that “no credible intelligence sources or methods” have been established to support the Russian claims.
Comey added that he was concerned about the potential for the release of classified information and the “lack of transparency and accountability” within the FBI, which he said had “been broken by an unprecedented level of leaks and disclosures.”
Comey said he was speaking about “an ongoing investigation.”
The Republican-led committee was formed by House Republicans to investigate the 2016 presidential election.
Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, said he had met with Comey twice in the past month and that the director assured him that the agency is not investigating any other matters or individuals.
Nunes said that he has not spoken to Comey about the FBI’s probe into the election or any potential ties to Russia.
The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Tuesday told reporters that the panel was still gathering information on what the investigation might mean for future elections.
Schiff said he is concerned about how much information is out there, and “how much we don’t know about what we’re looking at.”
“We have to figure out how much is out and how much we can rely on, how much it’s been made public, and how to protect the American people,” Schiff said.
Schiff added that the committee was seeking “very comprehensive” information from Comey and his office, and called for the president to provide “more details on what this investigation means for our democracy.”
Comey also testified in January before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The former FBI director said he believed that the U to be a “very, very dangerous place,” and that U.s intelligence community was “more focused on Russian-inspired activity, and not the Russian role.”
Comey added at the time that “Russia is not our friend, and we have to be very careful what we say and do.”