Congressional leaders get briefings on Russia probe

Trump ‘hereby demands' the Justice Department investigate his conspiracy theories. That's not how it works

Trump now is zeroing in on - and at times embellishing - reports that a longtime US government informant approached members of his 2016 campaign during the presidential election in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election.

Trump has also taken to now frequently using the term "Spygate" to refer to reports of an Federal Bureau of Investigation informant making contact with three former Trump campaign officials amid suspicions of Russian officials infiltrating the president's team.

"Although he did not participate in the meetings which followed, as the White House's attorney handling the Special Counsel's investigation, his involvement -- in any capacity -- was entirely improper, and I made this clear to him", Schiff said in a statement.

A top congressional Democrat is urging the Justice Department and the FBI to launch a criminal investigation into how a confidential informant's name made its way into media coverage.

Giuliani later told CNN that he assumes Flood went to the meeting because the President wanted him there. Trump has routinely broken norms about how the White House interacts with the Justice Department, which is supposed to have a degree of independence. Then Republicans try to twist the mobilization of those resources to give them the answer they're seeking.

This is also an administration that, early in 2017, invited Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to the White House complex to view classified documents that it believed would help bolster Trump's off-the-cuff claim about phones at Trump Tower having been wiretapped during the campaign. The president intensified his attacks this week, calling it "spygate" and tweeting Thursday that it was "Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in US history".

The intelligence grouping consists of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, top intelligence Democrat Mark Warner, Nunes and Schiff.

Q Thanks, Sarah. I want to ask about this meeting the Chief of Staff is setting up with lawmakers regarding the documents that they requested about the Russian Federation investigation.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly referred to the informant as a spy, sometimes saying it was someone embedded in the Trump campaign.

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"There's definitely tension", said the person, who has advised the President on how to approach the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department official who would be the one to receive any complaints from Giuliani would presumably be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller past year in the wake of Comey's firing and was present for Thursday's briefings.

Asked about one of Trump's tweets referring to the use of the informant as "Spygate" and claiming that it may be "one of the biggest political scandals in USA history", Haines said: "Surely, you realize that I think that's ridiculous".

If Giuliani files any complaints, they would presumably fall on the desk of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller previous year following Comey's ousting.

The department originally rejected Nunes' appeal, writing in a letter in late April that his request for information "regarding a specific individual" could have severe consequences, including potential loss of human life.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also reportedly attended the meeting.

Giuliani also said that learning about the confidential source is a prerequisite for any special counsel interview with the President.

Nonetheless, Giuliani said the Trump camp wants access to the material presented at those briefings to help prepare the president for a possible interview with Mueller.

Trump has been claiming since his early days as president that he was spied upon by President Barack Obama's administration.

"There's never been a Gang of Eight meeting with that kind of White House presence", he said.

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