THE FBI has no evidence Russia was successful in hacking Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign nor the Republican National Committee (RNC), the director of the bureau has admitted.

James Comey, 56, appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee with other intelligence chiefs to discuss the alleged Russian hacking of the Republican and Democratic parties and senior party operatives in an attempt to exert an influence on the outcome of the presidential election by damaging Hillary Clinton’s chances as the Republican candidate.

Mr Comey testified alongside James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, and the heads of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

He said: “We did not develop any evidence that the Trump campaign, or the current RNC, was successfully hacked.”

James Comey, head of the FBIReuters

FBI director James Comey appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee

He added there was evidence Russia hacked Republican state-level political campaigns and “old” email domains that the RNC was no longer using.

Mr Comey said: “There were successful penetrations of some groups and campaigns, particularly at the state level on the Republican side of the aisle, and some limited penetration of old [Republican National Committee] domains.”

While it collected some information from these hacks, Russia did not publicly release it, he said.

James Comey, FBI headReuters

FBI director James Comey giving evidence

However when asked whether the FBI was investigating the possibility of links between Trump associates and Russia Mr Comey declined to answer.

Mr Comey also testified that as the FBI probed the alleged Russian hacking, DNC officials didn’t allow agents to access the committee’s servers, instead hiring a cybersecurity firm with close ties to the FBI to examine the servers and provide the evidence to the bureau.

Mr Comey said the FBI always prefers to examine such items itself, and that he didn’t know why the Democratic officials didn’t give the bureau access.

James Comey with security chiefsReuters

James Comey appeared with other security chiefs

In contrast, a report released by US intelligence agencies on Friday claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to assist Mr Trump’s electoral chances by attempting to discredit Mrs Clinton.

The report also indicated that Russian military intelligence used intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, and the Guccifer 2.0 “persona” to release emails that it had acquired from the Democratic National Committee and top Democrats as part of the effort to help Mr Trump and harm Mrs Clinton.

The report went on to say that state-funded propaganda and paid social media “trolls” were used to make deliberately nasty comments.

James ComeyReuters

FBI director James Comey gives his evidence

Mr Putin’s office hit back yesterday over the report and stated the accusations were unfounded and amounted to a witch-hunt.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Groundless accusations which are not supported by anything are being rehearsed in an amateurish, unprofessional way. We don’t know what information they are actually relying on.”

“We still don’t know what data is really being used by those who present such unfounded accusations.”

FBI director James ComeyReuters

FBI’s James Comey

He added: “We are growing rather tired of these accusations. It is becoming a full-on witch-hunt.”

President Obama has already expelled 35 Russian diplomats from US soil over the hacking. Russia said it would not reciprocate.