Probe of Federal Bureau of Investigation spying on Trump campaign requires new special counsel

Pauline Gross
May 25, 2018

Their attendance was just one of the many twists that accompanied the remarkable back-to-back briefings between senior Trump administration officials and two different groups of lawmakers. In fact, Democrats have asked to be shown the classified material.

But the attendee list for each meeting shifted nearly hourly, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Thursday morning that he would attend the first meeting and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi later announcing that Schiff would also attend the first meeting. Those individuals left before the substance of it. The California Democrat said she had directed Schiff to attend in her place so as to make sure "henchmen of the president" do not interfere with the investigation.

The president said "SPYGATE" could be one of the biggest political scandals in history.

The president went on to warn Democrats, saying what goes around comes around.

That gesture may give Trump a face-saving way to retreat from what sounded like a plan to order a criminal investigation that DOJ officials do not think is justified.

Giuliani also said that learning about the confidential source is a prerequisite for any special counsel interview with the President. With Guiliani predicting that the Special Counsel may conclude its obstruction of justice investigation by September 1st, the Republicans' best hope might be to try and keep control of Congress.

The White House, however, said that Kelly and Flood were only there to make a statement about Trump's intention for the meeting, and didn't stay for any of the substance.

Senior Justice Department and intelligence officials met with the lawmakers Thursday in a bid to end the standoff between House Republicans and the Justice Department over a confidential intelligence source in the Russian Federation investigation. The original meeting was scheduled for just Nunes and Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but the Justice Department relented and allowed additional lawmakers to come after Democrats strongly objected.

Asked about tomorrow's meeting with Nunes, Gowdy, Ed O'Callighan, Christopher Wray and Dan Coats, Trump insisted "everybody wants this solved", adding, "a lot of bad things have happened".

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She also rejected the suggestion that since Twitter is a private company it is beyond the reach of First Amendment forum rules. Caplan, who agreed with Buchwald's ruling, said government officials can't choose to listen exclusively to their supporters.

In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan wouldn't say what he learned, but said he looked forward to the "prompt completion" of the House Intelligence Committee's work now that they are "getting the cooperation necessary".

"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures or protocols", Schiff told reporters after the meeting.

Exactly when Stefan Halper began his work spying on the Trump campaign, the full extent of his contact with Trump campaign officials, to whom he reported and what information he ultimately gathered from his meetings with Trump officials remains unknown, but one thing is clear; the first target of Halper's spying was not Donald Trump, it was Obama administration critic LTG Mike Flynn.

The Justice Department had rejected Nunes' original request, writing in a letter in April that his request for information could put lives in danger.

Democrats demanded to receive the same briefing. Initially offered only to Republicans, the briefings were the latest piece of stagecraft meant to publicize and bolster the allegations. The first meeting was held at the Justice Department while the "Gang of Eight" briefing was on Capitol Hill.

Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, has been demanding information on an FBI source in the Russian Federation investigation.

Flood was sent out of the room during the classified briefing, but he was there at the beginning of both meetings.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, the president said Democrats continuously go after a phony collusion with Russian Federation narrative, which is a made-up scam. They also conveyed the president's understanding of the need to protect human intelligence services and the importance of communication between the branches of government.

Other reports by GizPress

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