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Summary

  1. The FBI's director confirms an inquiry into any Donald Trump campaign links to Russia
  2. The law enforcement chief says there is no evidence to support Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped Trump
  3. The Trump administration says 'nothing has changed' and 'there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion'
  4. The NSA's head strongly denies Trump administration claims that he asked Britain's GCHQ to spy on Trump
  5. Democrats and Republicans, meanwhile, trade barbs at Senate hearing on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Thank you for being with us

That's all for today, thanks for joining us.

For the rest of the day, you can keep across the latest developments on the Russia investigation and on the Supreme Court nomination - which resumes tomorrow - in our news stories below.

FBI confirms Russia probe

Senators clash at Gorsuch hearing

Trump's approval rating falls

After a recent bump in popularity, according to the polls, the president's approval rating now appears to have fallen in the last week.

How today's events play out, we will see.

You can follow the latest on what Trump is doing, and how his actions are viewed by the American public, on our Trump tracker page.

How much has the president achieved so far?

graphic
BBC

What a tangled web she weaves

And one unexpected fact we unearthed today - tarantulas don't grow webs, as one congresswoman learned the hard way when she made a clumsy non-BBC-Earth-approved metaphor.

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Three Trump claims 'debunked' - Vox

Vox says several of the president's allegations have today been put to bed.

1. The Russia story is fake, created by Democrats

2. President Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower

3. Britain's top spies helped Obama

Read the full article 

The White House takes a different view and said earlier "nothing has changed" with today's evidence.  

'Big grey cloud hanging over us'

As the five-and-a-half hour hearing concludes, Republican chairman Devin Nunes summarised the difficulty ahead.

"Here's the challenge...you've announced that you have this big investigation, but now you've got these people who are involved in our government.. These are important players," he said in his closing remarks.

"The longer this hangs out here, the bigger the cloud is."

He seems particularly frustrated that no specific names have been identified and no collusion identified.  

Nunes asks that if anyone working in the White House or for the Trump administration is found to have contacted the Russians, that the intelligence directors immediately disclose that.

Republican Devin Nunes (right) with Democrat Adam Schiff
Getty Images
Republican Devin Nunes (right) with Democrat Adam Schiff

'This behaviour is not likely to stop'

The witnesses are asked by Washington state Democrat Denny Heck why it would matter that Russia allegedly meddled in the US election campaign. 

FBI Director Comey says: "When there’s an effort by a foreign nation state to mess with that (US democracy), to destroy that, to corrupt that, it’s very, very serious, threatens what is America. 

"If any Americans are part of that effort that’s a very serious matter and so you would expect the FBI to understand if that’s so, and if so who did what." 

NSA chief Mike Rogers says: "This behaviour is not likely to stop, this is not likely to be the last time we have a discussion about this kind of activity."

Meanwhile, in Crimea

Three years after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory our correspondent Steve Rosenberg has been to Crimea to hear what people are saying there.

There's been a lot of talk about Crimea and Vladimir Putin in today's hearing, so it might be helpful to see what things really look like on the ground there.

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View more on twitter

A tale of two tycoons

President Trump met Bill Gates at the White House today to discuss foreign aid.

As they met, it was revealed that the Microsoft founder had yet again topped the list of the world's wealthiest people, according to Forbes.

Gates' fortune rose to $86bn, from $75bn.

But it was bad news for Trump, who slipped 220 spots to 544 and must now scrape by on just $3.5bn.

Forbes said a $1bn fall in his wealth was due to the slow US property market.

More details here

Bill Gates
AFP
Bill Gates, richest earthling - still

Were Russians successful?

The FBI director is back from his bathroom break.

Asked about the Trump tweet below, Comey says intelligence agencies have made no judgement on whether the Russians were successful or not in influencing the US 2016 election.

View more on twitter

White House reacts to FBI probe

Spicer says he is not aware of any White House official under investigation by the FBI.

FBI director Comey earlier refused to be drawn on any names of who might be under scrutiny in the ongoing inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the election.

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Spicer defends Trump golf-playing

Spicer is asked why Trump spends so much time at golf clubs when he excoriated Obama for hitting the fairway.

The press secretary says Trump has used "the game of golf" to advance America's interests, such as his links outing with Japan's PM.

Spicer is asked to produce other examples of how the president has mixed work with golf. He says the president is entitled to some privacy.

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Watergate defender: 'Trump has no defense'

John Dean, a former legal counsellor to President Richard Nixon's White House, is on Twitter and giving his response to today's events.

He played a role defending Nixon, leading the FBI to call him "the master manipulator of the cover-up". 

He believes a grand jury should be called for an independent investigation.

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Manafort had 'limited role'

Sean Spicer says Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign, played a "limited role for a limited time".

Manafort was repeatedly mentioned by Democratic lawmakers in today's hearing for alleged Russia intelligence links.

Twitter wags had fun with Mr Spicer's use of the description "very limited role".

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Breaking'Nothing has changed'

Of today's FBI and NSA evidence in Congress, Sean Spicer echoes his boss' view that "nothing has changed... there's no evidence of a Trump-Russia collusion".

A member of the press corps points out that Comey told lawmakers the matter was still very much under investigation.

"Investigating it and having proof of it are two different things," Spicer retorts.

Catch up: What we learned from Comey

What FBI Director Comey said on Trump, Russia and wiretaps

White House briefing begins

Sean Spicer is at the podium with one of the most difficult jobs in Washington today.

He will be asked by the press corp why he had accused the British of helping Obama to wiretap Trump Tower before the election - a claim that will be very hard to prove today now that the FBI and NSA directors say there is no proof of any such wiretap.

So far he's touting praise for Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is taking questions at his first confirmation hearing today.

'I'm not made of steel' - FBI

Comey interrupts Congressman Schiff to ask for a quick break.

"I'm not made of steel," he adds. 

"Ten minutes?" the congressman offers.

"That's plenty," the FBI director responds.

Republican plan to 'capture' judicial branch

Meanwhile, over in the US Senate, the confirmation hearing continues for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin told Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch that his nomination formed part of a Republican party strategy to "capture" the judicial branch of the US government. 

Democrat senator criticises Republican tactics in Supreme Court nominations

'Knowing collusion'?

Illinois congressman Mike Quigley wants know if collusion requires two knowing parties, or if collusion can be possible when one "actor doesn't necessarily know that what they're doing is helping the other government". 

The NSA chief says that does happen sometimes, leading Quigley to ask about "naive acquiescence", in which one party should know better.

"I don't know what that means," spy chief Rogers chuckles when presented with that scenario.

'Lying to reporters not illegal'

Ohio Republican Mike Turner asks Comey about journalists who publish classified information. 

The FBI director says: "Lying to reporters is not illegal."

Trump congratulates son and daughter-in-law on pregnancy

The president has congratulated his son, Eric, and his wife, Lara, on their baby news. 

Twitter accuses him of trying to deflect from the FBI director's confirmation of the Russia investigation.

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View more on twitter

'Trying to be studiously vague' - Comey

Comey says there are things he can't comment on today because the questions concern US citizens or issues that may be under investigation.

He says he is trying to be "studiously vague" with his responses, in order not to betray any active investigations.

Congressman Michael Turner of Ohio wanted to know if there was direct evidence that Michael Flynn had promised to rescind or reduce sanctions against the Russian governement. 

Trump back on Twitter

Trump tweets the below. 

However, the FBI director was very clear in his remarks that the whole issue of alleged Russian involvement in the US election is still under investigation.

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Do tarantulas spin webs?

Congresswoman Jackie Speier's likening of Putin to a tarantula on a web has drawn a swift rebuttal from Twitter.

Apparently tarantulas do not weave webs. 

Paging David Attenborough...

Read more about the truth about tarantulas at BBC Earth.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Russians 'unusually loud'

FBI Director Comey says the Russians were "very noisy" and "unusually loud" in their alleged hacking of US Democratic party computers.

"It was almost as if they didn't care if we found out," says Comey.

He says their plan might have been "freaking people out" in the US once Americans discovered alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

"They'll be back in 2020, they may be back in 2018," he says.

Comey adds that the Russians probably judged their hacking to be a success because they "introduced chaos and division and discord and sowed doubt about this amazing country of ours".

'Putin a tarantula'

Congresswoman Jackie Speier has used a vivid analogy to describe the Russians and those that help them.

The California Democrat says they are like a "spiderweb with a tarantula in the middle", and the tarantula is Vladimir Putin, she tells Comey.

She says the Putin-Tarantula is influencing Trump associates like Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page, and even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Speier says the alleged Russian hacking of the US Democratic party computer servers was "an act of war - an act of hybrid warfare".

If you're just joining us...

Barbara Plett Usher

BBC News, Washington

FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating any possible co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the election outcome. 

US intelligence chiefs have previously said only that they believed Russia aimed to favour Donald Trump’s candidacy. 

Comey also said neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice had evidence to support Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama wiretapped his phones ahead of the election. 

And the Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers strongly denied allegations repeated by the Trump administration that he’d asked GCHQ to spy on Mr Trump.

Rogers said that would violate both US law and international spy agreements.

Trump tweets

The US president's main takeaway, sent from his official @POTUS account and not his personal account that he usually tweets from...

We can expect to hear more about this point at the White House daily press briefing, which takes place about an hour from now.  

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'2 parallel press conferences'

A few Twitter users have noted the yawning divide on the House Intelligence Committee.

Many Republicans would rather discuss the unknown source of the leaked classified information.

The Democrats would rather focus on the bombshell information divulged in the leaks.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'There is NO EVIDENCE'

The Trump administration has insisted "nothing has changed" after revelations the FBI is investigating his campaign's links to Russia. 

"There is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal," a senior administration official said in a written statement.

'Just dead wrong'

New York Republican Peter King says of journalists’ reporting on Trump and his associates: "I've never seen such a sustained period of leaks." 

Comey agrees leaks are a problem and have been "unusually active" of late.

"A lot of it is just dead wrong," the FBI director says of a lot of recent reporting based on leaks.

'Lying and failure to disclose'

Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama is asking a series of questions, and getting nowhere with the FBI director.

"I can't answer that," Comey says repeatedly.

She says she wants the public to understand the "scope and breadth" of the activities that led to Michael Flynn's dismissal as Trump's national security adviser.

She believes Flynn should be under a criminal investigation, due to his "lying and failure to disclose really important information" regarding his communications with the Russian government.

'Utterly ridiculous'

'More Brexits?'

Would [the Russians] like to see more Brexits, and other departures from Europe?" a Democratic congressman asks, in a line of questioning related to Russia's political interests.

"Would they like to see more Brexits?" Congressman Schiff simplifies his question.

"Yes," replies the FBI director.

What FBI director didn't say

Anthony Zurcher

BBC North America reporter

What FBI Director James Comey didn’t say during intelligence hearings today on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was as important as what he did say. While he confirmed there is an ongoing investigation that started last July, he couldn’t predict when it might end. He also repeatedly said he could not comment on specific members of the Trump team who may be the topic of investigation.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians? No comment. Long-time Trump advisor Roger Stone, who reportedly had communications with individuals who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails? No comment. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after leaked evidence surfaced that he had communicated with a Russian ambassador about US sanctions? No comment.

"I don’t want to answer any questions about a US person," said Comey.

All of this is evidence that the investigation isn’t just ongoing, it’s substantive and far-reaching.

While Democrats will probably be encouraged by this, it was telling that Republicans pursued the White House line that the topic of greatest concern were the intelligence leaks that put this story in the headlines.

While some Republicans have expressed concern about the allegations of Russian election meddling, that uneasiness was not on display on Monday. If Trump can consolidate his party’s support, it will go a long way toward insulating the president against any fallout from this investigation.

'Clear preference for a President Trump'

The Russians had a "clear preference for a President Trump" the FBI has said in the past, leading one Texas congressman to ask why.

"I think that was a fairly easy judgement for the [intelligence] community," Comey says.

"Putin hated Secretary Hillary so much, that the flip-side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much", the FBI director says.

He adds that the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend argument makes sense "logically".

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Trump tweets 'bogus'

Eric Holder, who served as the top US law enforcement officer under Obama for nearly six years, has been watching today's congressional proceedings.

Here's his sum-up:

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