(Reuters) The head of the FBI publicly challenged U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, denying the Republican's claim that former president Barack Obama wiretapped his 2016 election campaign and confirming his agency had launched a criminal investigation into any collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

FBI Director James Comey told a congressional hearing he had seen no evidence to support a claim by Trump that Obama had wiretapped his campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York.

The president created a controversy in early March when he tweeted without giving evidence that Obama had wiretapped the campaign as the Republican businessman took on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

"With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets," Comey told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing.

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