Clapper suggests 'parallelism' in actions of Russia, Trump campaign

28 May 2018, 12:19 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Sen. John Kennedy calls on Mueller to end Russia investigation ‘atmosphere of rumors

Sen. John Kennedy calls on Mueller to end Russia investigation ‘atmosphere of rumors

A total of five people have pleaded guilty so far to charges brought by the special counsel's Russian Federation probe, including two former members of the 2016 Trump campaign: former aide George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The woman who oversaw the Obama White House's response to the Russian election attack said she was never briefed on the FBI's use of an informant to investigate the Trump campaign and that it was "ridiculous" for President Trump to claim that the matter amounted to "one of the biggest political scandals in USA history".

After the meetings, which included Justice Department, FBI officials, congressional leaders from both parties and Democratic and Republican leaders of the intelligence committees, Democrats said they saw no evidence to support Republican allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately. The second meeting will include all of those people plus Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

For someone who insists that there was "no collusion!" and that he has nothing to hide, Trump has sought to undermine this investigation from the start, baselessly attacking those who are conducting it, diverting attention to sideshows and injecting politics into what should be a fact-finding process. After the White House initially said it would hold that second briefing two weeks later, the administration agreed late Wednesday to give the "Gang of Eight" briefing the same day.

Now that the Mueller probe has bored into Trump's inner circle - and federal authorities have raided the homes and office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen - the president appears to be in a panic.

"For the record, the president's chief of staff and his attorney in an ongoing criminal investigation into the president's campaign have no business showing up to a classified intelligence briefing", Sen. And Trump took up the cause as the White House tried to combat the threat posed by Mueller's investigation into Russian interference and possible obstruction of justice.

The president intensified his attacks on the probe this week, calling it "spygate" and tweeting Thursday that it was "Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in USA history". According to a US official familiar with the meeting, the briefers did not reveal the name of an informant. Moderate Republicans were distressed that Trump politicized intelligence by holding classified briefings that excluded Democrats.

The two House lawmakers - Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy - will attend both briefings, as will Kelly, Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

BATON ROUGE LA – DECEMBER 10 U.S. Senator John Kennedy
BATON ROUGE LA – DECEMBER 10 U.S. Senator John Kennedy

An initial Thursday briefing at the Department of Justice was meant to be only for Republicans, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Trump's remarks on the alleged campaign spy come after a group of lawmakers met with Justice Department officials to discuss classified information about the first months of the probe into Russian election meddling.

Democrats had asserted it was inappropriate that Nunes and Gowdy be granted their own briefing, though that was largely before Schiff was allowed to attend the earlier briefing.

Giuliani has taken those claims further, arguing in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday that what's Trump dubbed "SPYGATE" might make Mueller's investigation illegitimate.

"The Democrats are now alluding to the concept that having an informant placed in an opposing party's campaign is different than having a spy, as illegal as that may be". Mark Warner, and the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff. Then they went to a separate 2 p.m. briefing on Capitol Hill with the bipartisan "Gang of Eight", the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and the Intelligence Committees. Some also questioned whether the presence of Flood and Kelly violated Justice Department policy meant to limit contacts with the White House to specific circumstances.

Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, originally demanded the information on an FBI source in the Russian Federation investigation.

It remains unclear what, if any, spying was done.

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