A senior House Republican who was part of a highly classified Justice Department briefing last week said on Tuesday that the FBI acted properly when it deployed an informant to gather information from advisers to President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said last week’s briefing, convened by the Justice Department under pressure from Trump, convinced him even further that the FBI’s information-gathering steps were appropriate
“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,” he said in an interview on Fox News. He added that the information also suggested that the effort had “nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
Recent reports have suggested that an FBI informant — a former academic who worked in several presidential administrations — approached multiple members of Trump’s foreign policy team, including advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Trump has seized on that news to suggest nefarious surveillance, but Justice Department officials say informants are a staple of counterintelligence investigations like the one the FBI had launched to investigate Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Gowdy said he understood Trump‘s frustration about public rhetoric on the Russia investigation by Democrats and intelligence officials, like former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan. But he noted that the current top officials at the agencies, including FBI Director Chris Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “now are all Trump appointees.“
Gowdy’s comments are a significant pushback against the president and his allies who have contended that the FBI’s use of an informant amounted to explosive political proof that the Obama administration embedded a spy in his campaign — an accusation that hasn’t been backed up by any available evidence.