Here’s a real thing that happened today: As the head of the FBI testified before Congress about possible Russian involvement in the 2016 election, the White House took to the @POTUS twitter account to argue with the head of the FBI.
True story, captured on TV and on the internet, in real time.
First, FBI director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that there was no evidence to back up Trump’s Twitter claims that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
"I have no information that supports those tweets," Comey said this morning. Comey also confirmed that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and had been doing so during last year’s election.
Then the Trump administration, using the @POTUS official account, tried turning Comey’s testimony into evidence for its own argument. Here’s the tweet the White House sent out, while Comey was still sitting in front of the House committee:
FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia. pic.twitter.com/cUZ5KgBSYP— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
The thrust: The White House wants you to think that the FBI might have been investigating Trump at Barack Obama’s request, even though Comey explicitly told House members that this wasn’t the case.
The White House wasn’t done tweeting. In this clip, both Comey and National Security Agency head Michael Rogers tell the committee that they don’t have evidence that Russia interfered with the voting process in swing states last fall. Note that the caption for the video says something else — that Russia didn’t “influence” the process. They didn’t say that:
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
And another one, suggesting that the real story here is the leaks — a common refrain in Trump’s tweets:
NSA Director Rogers tells Congress unmasking individuals endangers national security. pic.twitter.com/jTwjPINvNh— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
And if you think this is an extraordinary use of live-tweeting, you’re not the only one.
Two hours after the White House sent out its first tweet about Comey, Rep. Jim Himes asked Comey if a tweet was correct. Had “the NSA and FBI [told] Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process”?
It’s worth reading the exchange:
Comey: “I haven’t been following anybody on Twitter while I’ve been sitting here.”
Himes: “Is that accurate?”
Comey: “We offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it’s never something that we looked at.”
Himes: “So it’s not too far of a logical leap that you have told the Congress that there was no influence on the electoral process is not quite right?”
Comey: “It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today because we don’t have any information on that subject, and that’s not something that was looked at.”
Watch a livestream of the hearing here:
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.