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‘No evidence’ I colluded with Russia

Hours before FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before Congress on the bureau’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President Trump took a few swings on Twitter.

First, the president pointed out that former National Intelligence Director James Clapper had said in a recent interview that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia,” Trump tweeted. “This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”

Clapper made those comments earlier this month in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We did not include any evidence in our report — and I say, ‘our,’ that’s NSA, FBI and CIA, with my office, the director of national intelligence — that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians,” he said. “There was no evidence of that included in our report.”

What Trump didn’t point out is that in the same interview, Clapper shot down his explosive, evidence-free claim that former President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of his phones at Trump Tower.

“There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said.

Comey is expected to say the same when he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

Related: Top Dem on House intel panel hopes Comey ends ‘wild goose chase’

On Sunday, the leaders of the bipartisan committee said they have seen no proof of Trump’s allegation against his predecessor.

“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the intelligence committee chairman, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We are at the bottom. There is nothing at the bottom,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the committee’s ranking Democrat, said on “Meet the Press.” “What the president said was just patently false.”

Schiff said he expects Comey’s testimony will definitively put an end to Trump’s wiretap allegations.

“I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase,” Schiff said.

Whether it does remains to be seen.

Trump followed up his Clapper tweet with another claiming that the “Russian story” was being pushed by bitter Democrats. Since his stunning November victory, Trump’s administration has been dogged by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin meddled in the election through cyberattacks and other means.

Trump went on to insist that the “real story” was the ongoing leaks coming out of the federal government. The president, who embraced WikiLeaks during the campaign, didn’t say which leaks he was taking exception to, but he has previously fumed over the revelation that his former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, discussed Obama-era sanctions with Russia during the transition.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” the president wrote Monday. “Must find leaker now!”

Trump also alleged that Democrats pushed “the Russian story ad an excuse for running a terrible campaign.” But questions about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia were raised well before Election Day.

Before Monday’s hearing, Schiff fired off a series of tweets of his own.

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