WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday rejected President Donald Trump’s claim that the Federal Bureau of Investigation planted a “spy” in his 2016 campaign.
Trump has been calling the FBI’s use of an informant who passed on details of his conversations with three Trump campaign associates “Spygate.”
The Republican president claimed the FBI planted a spy in his campaign in an effort to undermine his presidential bid. Media reports identified the man as Stefan Halper, an American-born professor at Britain’s University of Cambridge,
Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, recently reviewed classified information underlying the FBI’s use of an informant as part of its investigation of Russian meddling in the election. Ryan told reporters that he agreed with the assessment of another key Republican lawmaker, Congressman Trey Gowdy, who reviewed documents in the case and concluded that the FBI did nothing wrong.
Gowdy said last week, “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.”
The South Carolina congressman said he had “never heard the term ‘spy’ used” and did not see evidence of it. “Informants are used all day, every day, by law enforcement.”
Ryan said, “I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate.”
However, Ryan added, “We have some more digging to do. We are waiting on some more document requests. We have some more documents to review. We still have someone answering questions.”
Asked last week about Gowdy’s comments, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “still has concerns about whether or not the FBI acted inappropriately having people in his campaign.”
Trump continues to assail the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into allegations, denied by Trump, that his campaign colluded with Russian interests and that he obstructed justice when he fired FBI director James Comey last year as he led the agency’s Russia investigation.
In a Twitter comment Tuesday, Trump claimed there is evidence the FBI was running “a counter-intelligence operation into the Trump Campaign dating way back to December, 2015. SPYGATE is in full force! Is the Mainstream Media interested yet? Big stuff!”
In a tweet Monday, Trump asserted he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself if Mueller finds wrongdoing by him, but questioned why he would since he has “done nothing wrong.” He called Mueller’s investigation a “never ending Witch Hunt.”
Ryan said he does not know if Trump has the power to pardon himself, but added, “I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t, and no one is above the law. I’ll leave it at that.”
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, speaking at an investors’ conference in Israel on Wednesday, accused Mueller’s lawyers of “trying very, very hard to frame [Trump] to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
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