Leading Republicans, including President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on Thursday attacked Rep. Trey Gowdy’s defense of the FBI’s use of a confidential source to investigate suspected Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Earlier this week, Mr. Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and House Oversight Committee chairman, told Fox News that he disagreed with Mr. Trump’s controversial suggestions that the Obama administration deployed the FBI to improperly spy on the 2016 Trump campaign by using an informant to contact certain staffers and advisors.
Mr. Gowdy said the term “spy” was being improperly used, arguing it was an “espionage” term and not a phrase he “ever used in the criminal justice system.”
On Thursday, Mr. Giuliani accused Mr. Gowdy of “drinking the Kool-Aid” on the issue.
Speaking to CNN, Mr. Giuliani further explained that negotiations over a possible interview between Mr. Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller regarding the Russian investigation were going nowhere until the White House could access documents related to the confidential source.
“The only thing I can conclude is that the documents are going to show nothing connecting Donald Trump to the Russians,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It’s exculpatory, which is why they don’t want to show us.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican member of the House Oversight committee, also railed against Mr. Gowdy’s defense.
“When you are deploying surveillance powers, counterintelligence powers, against an opposition party’s campaign, that is not normal and I think that is not what Americans want the FBI to be doing,” Mr. DeSantis, the leading Republican candidate for Florida governor, told Fox News on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump attacked the news media for failing to cover what he has branded “spy gate” — his claim that the FBI’s use of a secret informant was part of a “deep state” conspiracy of Washington’s elite against him during the 2016 vote.
“The corrupt Mainstream Media is working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign! Surveillance much?” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Democrats and law enforcement officials have dismissed Mr. Trump’s argument as an effort to erode faith in Mr. Mueller’s investigation and have also criticized him for seemingly outing a valuable intelligence source.
Late last week, Mr. Growdy and Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chair of the House Intelligence committee — who has worked for months to learn more about the source — received a rare classified briefing from FBI and Justice Department officials on the Mueller probe and Mr. Trump’s accusation of spying.
Mr. Gowdy said that based on the information he received, the FBI was investigating Russian influence, not monitoring Trump campaign political activity.
Last week, Mr. DeSantis and a group of fellow House Republicans introduced a resolution calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate possible misconduct by the DOJ and FBI during the 2016 election.
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