Politics

FBI’s ‘Informant’ Was a Covert Spy, McCarthy Warns

Why didn't bureau officials notify Trump campaign leaders about Russia concerns instead of secretly implanting a snoop?

FBI officials should have told President Donald Trump of their concerns about alleged links between some of his 2016 campaign officials and Russian interests instead of resorting to spying, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy said Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“If you were looking at a corporation and you thought that the corporation was being corrupted by three people, you would go to the CEO and say, ‘I think we have a problem here. We need your cooperation,'” said McCarthy, a National Review contributor and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“What they did instead was send covert operatives to pry information out,” McCarthy (pictured above, left) noted. “There’s no question that they spied on the campaign.”

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The New York Times first reported May 17 that the FBI used an informant to befriend three Trump campaign officials in 2016 and collect information from them. Trump directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) May 20 to determine whether his campaign was infiltrated for political purposes.

The DOJ inspector general, Michael Horowitz, was tasked last week with investigating the controversy, now labeled Spygate.

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Former intelligence officials within the Obama administration took issue with the word “spying,” and both liberals and some conservatives defended the FBI’s infiltration of the Trump campaign, including House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got,” Gowdy told Fox News earlier Tuesday, claiming that the FBI’s information gathering had “nothing to do with Donald Trump.”

Fox News host Laura Ingraham wondered why the FBI failed to offer Trump a defensive briefing if the bureau harbored such deep concerns about whether Russia had compromised members of his campaign.

“Why didn’t the Obama administration, having this deep concern that they had about Russia … why didn’t they go to President Trump?” Ingraham asked.

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Although “it may well be” that Trump “was not personally a target” of the FBI’s scrutiny, McCarthy argued that Americans still should be concerned about the bureau’s methods.

“What they’re saying was they think what the FBI did was appropriate. So what they’re saying is they had these guys who they had concerns about who had some Russia baggage, and it was appropriate for the FBI to check that out,” he paraphrased.

“I don’t think anyone in his right mind would disagree with that,” McCarthy added. “The question is how you go about doing that?”

But Democrat Scott Bolden, a managing partner of the Reed Smith law firm, dismissed McCarthy’s and Ingraham’s concerns about the FBI’s conduct.

“If I’m doing an internal investigation for a company … I am not starting at the top. I’m starting at the source,” Bolden (pictured above, center) argued. “And what they did with this informant was went and talked and did outreach to two or three leaders in the campaign to test not whether Trump was colluding with Russia but whether Russia was doing outreach to the Trump campaign, how deep they may have gotten in there.”

Related: When Do Americans Say It Isn’t Right to ‘Spy on a Campaign’?

“And what would you want the FBI to do? Unless you put a political overlay on it, they’re doing their job,” Bolden added. “The target was Russia. They were trying to protect Americans.”

But as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia shows few signs of ending anytime soon, the nation is growing increasingly restless for results, according to several polls. Although Americans view Spygate “as an investigation,” McCarthy noted that Trump “has to look at this, as ‘this affects my ability to govern.'”

“That’s why the special counsel is such a terrible institution, and it’s been a terrible institution to every president of either party that it’s ever been turned to,” he warned.

An incensed Trump claimed in a tweet Tuesday that Mueller’s team investigating the “rigged Russian Witch Hunt” may end up “MEDDLING” in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections if the probe is prolonged indefinitely.

“The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls,” Trump tweeted. “There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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