WASHINGTON – The top Republican in the House of Representatives backed on Wednesday a fellow lawmaker who dismissed President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of nefarious FBI surveillance of his 2016 presidential campaign.
“I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill, adding: “We have some more digging to do.”
Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was one of a select few lawmakers allowed into a briefing on highly classified Justice Department information pertaining to the FBI’s use of a confidential informant to gain information from Trump campaign associates.
After reviewing the documents he said last week that he was “even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got”.
The FBI was investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign.
Trump has maintained, without publicly presenting evidence, that former President Barack Obama imbedded a “spy” into his campaign, dubbing the alleged incident “Spygate”.
Following Gowdy’s apparent undercutting of the attempted controversy the White House maintained Trump “feels that there was cause for concern, and it should be looked at”.
Gowdy took further swipes at the president’s claims during an interview with CBS News, saying the use of confidential informants is commonplace in the criminal justice system, and dismissing the use of the term “spy” to describe the FBI’s source within the Trump campaign.
“Undercover informant, confidential informant, those are all words I’m familiar with, I’ve never heard the term spy used,” he said, when asked about the president’s repeated use of the word “spy.”
Trump and the White House have yet to respond to Ryan’s remarks.
Ryan maintained, however, that more information was necessary before the case could be fully closed.
“As Chairman Nunes said just the other day, if we got all the information we’re looking for, we could wrap this up faster. But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of, of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made,” he told reporters. “I want to make sure that we run every lead down and make sure we get final answers to these questions.”