WASHINGTON — There is no evidence that the FBI planted a “spy” on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, a senior House Republican said Wednesday, directly contradicting Trump’s repeated insistence that the agency inserted a “spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee and a longtime Trump supporter, was briefed last week by the Justice Department and FBI following reports that investigators relied on a U.S. government informant in its investigation into Russian election meddling.
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, told Fox News on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Gowdy said he had “never heard the term ‘spy’ used” and did not see evidence of that.
“Informants are used all day, every day by law enforcement,” he told “CBS This Morning.”
Trump has zeroed in on, and at times embellished, reports on the informant, calling it “spygate” and tweeting that it was “starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.” Trump has also rejected assertions by the U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government was trying to help him beat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s legal team has asked to review classified information about the origins of the FBI investigation to prepare the president for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now leading the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“The folks who have seen the information have the same perspective,” Gowdy said. “The folks who have not seen the information, I don’t know what informs their perspective.”
The Justice Department has asked its internal watchdog to review President Trump’s charge on Twitter that the FBI spied on his 2016 election campaign. Amna Nawaz gets analysis and reaction from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith and retired FBI agent Frank Montoya.
Gowdy, did, however, express support for Trump’s “frustration” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in May 2017 from the Russia probe based on possible conflict of interest. The recusal of Sessions, an early backer of Trump’s presidential bid, followed the revelation that he had two previously undisclosed interactions during the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador.
Gowdy told CBS that Trump is just “expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job. Not afterward.”
Trump tweeted out Gowdy’s comments on Sessions, including his saying that “there are lots of really good lawyers in the country” and that the president “could have picked someone else” for the top Justice Department job.
“And I wish I did!” Trump wrote.
Trump did not reference Gowdy’s comments that there was no evidence of the FBI planting a spy on his campaign.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.