A classified briefing on Thursday left Democratic Party leaders certain there’s “no evidence” to support President Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the FBI planted a “spy” in his campaign.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the closed-door Justice Department briefing all but confirmed that Trump’s “Spygate” allegations are baloney.
“Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump Campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” Schiff said in a statement co-signed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
The top-secret meeting, which was attended by the bipartisan “gang of eight,” was called after pressure from Trump to look into whether the FBI spied on his campaign and subsequently launched a politically motivated investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump got those ideas amid revelations that Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper worked as a confidential informant for the FBI in the early days of the bureau’s counterintelligence probe into Russian election meddling, according to multiple reports.
Halper sought out and met with three Trump campaign aides, but there’s no evidence to suggest he was embedded in the campaign or that FBI breached protocol in the process.
Prior to the “gang of eight” meeting, Justice Department officials briefed a smaller group of lawmakers on the confidential FBI informant, including Trump-allied GOP Reps. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy. Also in attendance was Trump’s Russia probe lawyer, Emmet Flood, sparking criticism from Democrats who said his presence indicated the President’s wish to undermine and intervene in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Emmet Flood’s presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate, and I told him so,” said Schiff, who attended both briefings.
The White House maintained Flood was only present “before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law.”
Schiff countered that Flood’s presence was particularly troubling considering that Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that Trump’s legal team might use information divulged during the classified briefing for the President’s defense as he weighs whether to sit down for an interview with Mueller’s investigators.
“Why should members of Congress learn the truth but not the President?” Giuliani told the Daily News.
Giuliani even said he wouldn’t have seen a problem in Trump himself attending the briefing, even though it was classified and focused on sensitive details of an FBI investigation into the President’s own campaign.