james comey

Could the U.S. Justice Department prosecute reporters for publishing stories based on classified material? That once-tangential question briefly took center stage during Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearing.

As several Republican lawmakers stressed the possible criminality of leaking to the press about the activities of President Trump's advisers and associates, South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy went a step further, asking, "Is there an exception in the law for reporters who want to break a story?"

FBI Director James Comey demurred.

FBI Director James Comey lit the fuse Monday on a political time bomb and no one — including him — knows how long it will take to burn or what kind of damage it may cause when it goes off.

Comey confirmed to members of Congress that his investigators are looking into possible collusion between the campaign that elected President Trump and the Russian government. In fact, he said, the FBI has been doing so since last July.

Cliff Owen / AP Photo

The NPR Two-Way blog will provide live coverage of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The live blog will include streaming video of the proceedings, with posts featuring highlights, context and analysis from NPR reporters and correspondents.

Over the weekend, President Trump accused his predecessor of "wire tapping" communications from Trump Tower in New York, where then-candidate and President-elect Trump lived and worked during the campaign and in the lead-up to the inauguration.

Former President Obama has denied the allegations, as has the former director of national intelligence. A spokesperson for Trump called on Congress to investigate the claim.

The White House is admitting that it discussed with the FBI media reports that Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian intelligence agents and that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to publicly knock down the story.

FBI Director James Comey refused.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

The Justice Department's watchdog has launched a sweeping review of conduct by the FBI director and other department officials before the presidential election, following calls from Congress and members of the public.

Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are considering whether to retain FBI Director James Comey after the agency became an issue in one of the most divisive campaigns in modern history, three sources told NPR.

Comey has nearly seven years left to serve in his 10-year term. The FBI director's position extends beyond the term of any single president to help insulate the bureau from political forces as it pursues sensitive criminal and national security investigations.