White House downplays Gowdy assessment of no FBI misconduct in Russia probe

As President Donald Trump publicly lashed out again at his own Attorney General on Wednesday over the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, a key Republican in Congress said for a second day that a top secret briefing provided to a handful of lawmakers last week showed no evidence of FBI misconduct, as agents were simply trying to figure out what Russia was doing with respect to the Trump Campaign and the 2016 elections.

“I think if the FBI were at the table this morning, they would tell you that Russia was the target, and Russia’s intentions toward the country were the target,” Gowdy said on CBS “This Morning.”

As he did in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday night, Gowdy said the FBI made the right response when evidence surfaced of Russian activity, which led to a broader investigation of interference by Moscow in the 2016 elections.

Asked directly if a “spy” had been inserted into the Trump Campaign – as the President has repeatedly charged – Gowdy said there was no evidence to back up that claim.

“And with that, a Republican Congressman brings an end to @realDonaldTrump’s false conspiracy theory,” tweeted Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

At the White House, officials downplayed Gowdy’s remarks, which went directly against the claims of the President, who as recently as Tuesday night had said the FBI had been ‘infiltrating’ his campaign.

“Clearly, there’s still cause for concern that needs to be looked at,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

On Capitol Hill, only one GOP lawmaker publicly expressed doubts about Gowdy’s FBI review.

“So the DOJ briefs members of Congress, on allegations against the DOJ, concluding that the DOJ did nothing wrong. Anyone see a problem here?” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the House Freedom Caucus.

As for the President, he did not on Wednesday continue his recent string of tweets that accused the FBI of ‘spying’ on his campaign – instead, Mr. Trump blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter, again saying he now wishes he had chosen someone else for the job, who would have been more involved in the Russia matter.

But just like his previous outbursts against Sessions, there was no indication that Mr. Trump would force the former Senator from Alabama to resign, or fire him.



Meanwhile, the President’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani pressed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to finish a report on the investigation by mid-September, arguing to do otherwise would be a clear effort to impact the 2018 mid-term elections.

“If he doesn’t file his report by September first, mid-September, he’s clearly doing a Comey,” Giuliani told reporters at the White House, referring to former FBI Director James Comey.

Giuliani also said he doesn’t think the President will fire Attorney General Sessions, despite Mr. Trump’s continued public irritation with the Sessions Russia recusal.

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