President Donald Trump on Friday poured gasoline on an already roaring political bonfire, suggesting he believes the FBI planted ‘at least one’ spy in his campaign in order to derail his White Houe aspirations by ginning up a phony reason to criminally investigate him.
‘Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,’ Trump tweeted.
‘It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!’
The president raised the ante after his attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, admitted on CNN that there’s no proof the Obama administration had a mole inside the Trump campaign during the president’s 2016 run.
Trump had minutes earlier touted a televised claim that his Democratic predecessor’s Justice Department tried to use a spy to ‘frame’ him.
‘First of all, I don’t know for sure – nor does the president – if there really was one,” Giuliani said. ‘For a long time we’ve been told that there was some kind of infiltration. At one time the president thought it was a wiretap. … but we’ve never been notified that he was on a tap or an intercept.’
Earlier he had promoted the view of a Fox Business Channel anchor who said the Justice Department was ‘out to frame’ him
Trump began his Friday online by tweeting that the rumors, if true, amount to ‘really bad stuff.’
He cited Fox Business Network host David Asman, who claimed Thursday that the Obama Justice Department ‘put a spy in the Trump campaign,’ suggesting that ‘by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.’
Giuliani, though, would only say that he and his fellow attorneys have been ‘told that … off the record’ by ‘people who knew a little about the investigation.’
But the president’s legal advisers ‘don’t know if they’re right or not,’ he conceded.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo compared the brewing tumult with the media free-for-all Trump himself created 14 months ago when he claimed the Obama administration had been monitoring his campaign team’s communications in 2016.
Trump stunned the world just six weeks into his presidency by tweeting that he had ‘[j]ust found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!’
‘How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!’ he added at the time.
Cuomo said Friday that the president has stated that claim ‘as fact many times.’
‘I think he thought that,’ Giuliani replied.
‘That doesn’t make it true,’ Cuomo fired back. ‘That’s part of the problem with understanding this situation: The president feels something. States it as fact. There winds up being no proof. But now you have a lot of people [who] believe it.’
Giuliani insisted Trump could be on the right track anyway.
‘He may turn out to be closer to the truth than people thought,’ he said. ‘We’re told there were two infiltrations, two embedded people in the campaign.’
‘They should tell us if there was,’ he said, referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. ‘The obligation is on them.’
On Thursday the president tweeted about a National Review essay by former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who argued that federal agencies under Barack Obama’s control did indeed spy on the Trump campaign.
‘Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN IMBEDDED INFORMANT”,’ Trump wrote.
‘If so, this is bigger than Watergate!’
Giuliani went on the Fox News Channel to back-stop his boss.
Discussion of the possibility of government surveillance on Trump’s campaign began when Fusion GPS boss Glenn Simpson told a Senate committee about a conversation he’d had with British ex-spy Christopher Steele
Steele, hired by Simpson’s firm to compile the ‘dirty dossier’ of anti-Trump research, said he was in contact with the FBI in Rome – who told him they had a human intelligence source inside the Trump campaign
Trump allowed in a tweet that the claim may not be accurate, if true, though, he said, it would be the biggest political scandal in modern American history
‘I think we’re going to have to look into whether we can challenge the legitimacy of the entire investigation. Maybe a special prosecutor, a special counsel, never should’ve been appointed,’ he said.
‘I’m shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign of a major party candidate or maybe two spies. And now I’m going through my brain, because you know I was a big part of that campaign – I’m trying to figure out who was the spy.’
Giuliani said it ‘would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town, at least involving law enforcement,’ if Trump’s predecessor had weaponized federal law enforcement to snoop on Trump’s presidential campaign.
The leader of the opposition research firm behind the infamous anti-Trump ‘dirty dossier’ told Congress last year that the FBI collected intelligence from inside the president’s campaign before the 2016 election.
The agency was at the time run by James Comey, the now decidedly anti-Trump former official who has unleashed scathing criticism of Trump in his memoir
Glenn Simpson’s testimony is among the disclosures in Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee release of transcripts from its investigation into the unverified collection of dirt funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
In August 2017 Simpson told committee members and staff that former British sy Christopher Steele – whom he had hired to probe Trump’s potential Russia ties – told him about a meeting in Rome with an FBI agent he knew.
‘Essentially what he told me was they [the FBI] had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source,’ Simpson recalled.
Despite reporting that Steele had misspoken, Simpson’s lawyer confirmed to the Senate that he ‘stands by his testimony’
James Comey was director of the FBI during the entirety of Trump’s presidential campaign, leading the Bureau during the time Simpson says it had a mole inside it
He said the Bureau ‘believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing, and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.’
Simpson moments later said the mole in Trumpworld ‘was a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had. It was someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something.’
Simpson’s words were first made public in January when California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a transcript of Simpson’s interview.
Feinstein drew howls from Republicans for unsealing the record without consulting with them first.
President Trump called her ‘Sneaky Dianne Feinstein’ and blamed her for releasing the testimony ‘in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization.’
Trump has called the swirl of investigations surrounding his alleged but unproven Russia ties a ‘witch hunt’
Trump said in morning tweet that Feinstein may have broken the law when she made the transcript public yesterday, bucking Republican leadership
Simpson’s testimony transcript includes this section where he described his conversation with his contractor Christopher Steele about his interactions with the FBI
Simpson said Steele gave him the impression that the FBI’s source in Trumpworld was ‘voluntary’ in nature
A flurry of reporting ensued, with partisans leaking claims to NBC News and other outlets claiming that Simpson had misspoken – that the FBI didn’t have a human intelligence source inside the Trump campaign.
Two days later, Committee chairman Chuck Grassley wrote to Simpson’s lawyer Joshua Levy for clarification.
Levy responded to the Iowa Republican senator: ‘I am writing in response to your letter, dated January 11, 2018, in which you have asked about the August 22, 2017 testimony from our client Glenn Simpson that Christopher Steele in the fall of 2016 said he believed the FBI had another source within the Trump organization/campaign.’
‘Mr. Simpson stands by his testimony.’