United States intelligence agencies offered no evidence to back President Donald Trump's claim that the Federal Bureau of Investigation planted a "spy" in his campaign, congressional Democrats said Thursday after a closed-door briefing.
Republicans had little to say immediately after the meetings.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell renewed his support for the Mueller investigation, significantly, after a secret briefing Thursday.
Trump fired Comey as the FBI investigated the Russian election interference, setting the stage for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his wide-ranging inquiries.
After the meetings were over, the Democrats who attended released a brief statement. Though he said the White House officials left before the meeting was substantively underway, he added, "never seen a Gang of Eight meeting that included any presence from the White House". The invite list evolved up until hours before the meeting - a reflection of the partisan distrust and the political wrangling.
John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, who Trump asked to help organize the meetings, attended both sessions, as did Emmet T. Flood, a lawyer representing Trump in the Russian Federation investigation. What he did was to pursue contacts with Trump foreign policy advisers George Papadopolous (who has subsequently pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his Russian Federation contacts) and Carter Page (who had been on the FBI's radar for his Russian Federation contacts long before the Trump campaign began) and with former campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis (who said his meeting with Halper was like a chat between professors in a faculty lounge and centered on China, not Russia).
It was unclear how much information was given to lawmakers.
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"The dossier is not classified or an intelligence document", he continued. The person declined to be identified because the briefing was classified.
"If they insist upon carrying out this farce, the White House and its Republican allies in the House will do permanent, long-standing damage to the practice of bipartisan congressional oversight of intelligence", Warner said.
The FBI began investigating Russia-connected Trump aids after they accurately predicted what Russian Federation would be doing to interfere in the election. Clinton and many other Democrats are convinced James Comey, as President Barack Obama's FBI chief, actually helped Trump by disclosing a renewed criminal investigation into Clinton's handling of emails close to the 2016 election while keeping quiet about the nascent investigation of Trump aides at that time.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY, the top Senate Democrat, continued to push Thursday morning for the first meeting to be scrapped altogether, calling Nunes a "known partisan" out to undermine Mueller's investigation. But, they were not the only people in the those meetings. He did not attend the second meeting, citing a scheduling conflict.
White House involvement in an investigation Justice Department investigation is rare.
The Justice Department had rejected Nunes' original request, writing in a letter in April that his request for information could put lives in danger. This is information that does tie directly into the Robert Muller investigation. Right now, there are rules saying you can't, you know, you don't want investigations to change political cycles.
It remained unclear what, if any, spying was done. The reason is, because these meetings were about confidential and private information that is not available to members of the public about the ongoing investigations into ... not just the spy ... but into Donald Trump's campaign itself.