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Trump repeats unproven claim about FBI spy

President Trump gave an exclusive interview to Fox News, repeating unproven claims that the FBI spied on his campaign.

Posted: May 28, 2018 10:53 AM
Updated: May 28, 2018 11:06 AM

Over the last 72 hours, the President of the United States has leaned into a conspiracy theory that goes like this: During the 2016 presidential race, President Barack Obama -- via the FBI -- placed a "spy" within Trump's campaign for purely political reasons.

Trump made that charge plain in a tweet Friday morning:

"Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain? And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!"

There's a tendency to write this latest Trump claim off as Trump being Trump. He has proven time and again that he is willing to stray from established facts in pursuit of a narrative that is more favorable to him -- from the size of his inauguration crowds to the idea that Obama ordered a wiretap on him during the last presidential campaign.

But the fact that this is what Trump does shouldn't distract us from the allegations here: Donald Trump is saying his predecessor as president used the leading law enforcement entity in the country to spy on him because Obama/the "deep state" didn't want someone as unconventional as Trump to be president.

To be clear: There is zero public evidence that Trump's claims are anywhere close to the truth.

What we know is that the FBI used a confidential human source to talk to several Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, during the campaign. The bureau did so because it had concerns about conversations those two men had with Russians. The confidential source was deployed to suss out what the Russians had told Page and Papadopoulos so as to gain insight into Russian meddling efforts. The source was never "placed" or "embedded" in Trump's campaign.

That's what we know, according to knowledgeable sources who have spoken to CNN among other media outlets. On Thursday, the Department of Justice held two briefings for a select group of congressional lawmakers to go over classified information about the confidential source and how he was used. After those meetings, none of the Republicans who attended had much of anything to say; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said only that nothing he learned surprised him.

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who attended both briefings, was blunt about the meetings.

"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign," Schiff told reporters Thursday afternoon.

What appears to be happening here is that Trump has seized on an unfounded rumor circulating among conservative media types and the likes of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, about the allegedly nefarious motives of the confidential source used by the FBI. He has not only maintained his belief in that conspiracy but amplified it over the last few days even as all available evidence continues to suggest that there is simply no "there" there.

The "why" behind all of this is simple: Trump and his allies in the conservative media are in the midst of an extended campaign to discredit the FBI and the broader Justice Department. The reason for that is simple: Trump is concerned about the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and the possibility of collusion between members of his campaign and the Russians.

The more doubt Trump can cast about the DOJ's motives, the easier it will be to dismiss or downplay the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller. This is all the deep state working against us, Trump will argue. They spied on my campaign! They tapped my phones! We can't trust anything they say!

That Trump's strategy is totally transparent doesn't make it any less of a threat to norms of what we do -- and should -- expect from a president. Ignoring established facts because they don't comport with the version you want to be true is dangerous enough. Doing so when it undermines basic confidence in our governing and law enforcement institutions is something else. And, the President of the United States doing so -- repeatedly -- is something that would have been hard to imagine prior to Trump's arrival on the political scene.

What Trump is doing is destructive to the very country he had pledged to make great again. There's just no other way to see it.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 480845

Reported Deaths: 6511
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin997381576
Ramsey42744796
Dakota35818383
Anoka33010383
Washington21862253
Stearns18683200
St. Louis14655262
Scott13119107
Wright12414114
Olmsted1170088
Sherburne866373
Carver756340
Clay683686
Rice664291
Blue Earth587235
Kandiyohi576674
Crow Wing514780
Chisago493644
Otter Tail479470
Benton441390
Winona414248
Mower400231
Douglas390768
Nobles385347
Goodhue383368
Polk341062
McLeod336349
Beltrami335350
Morrison321846
Lyon311543
Itasca308545
Becker307841
Isanti303453
Carlton298544
Steele297611
Pine280616
Freeborn276823
Nicollet252341
Todd244030
Brown240737
Le Sueur230520
Mille Lacs225747
Cass218124
Waseca206917
Meeker205534
Martin186728
Wabasha18543
Roseau178317
Hubbard159740
Houston156414
Dodge15124
Renville147340
Redwood146327
Fillmore13648
Chippewa135735
Cottonwood133520
Wadena128120
Pennington127016
Faribault121716
Aitkin117833
Sibley116410
Rock115513
Watonwan11518
Kanabec106719
Pipestone100724
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9418
Jackson92510
Swift87218
Pope7885
Marshall76815
Stevens7378
Lake72617
Clearwater71514
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66510
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5123
Lincoln5032
Grant4888
Norman4648
Mahnomen4377
Unassigned43668
Kittson40721
Red Lake3544
Traverse3015
Lake of the Woods2131
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359747

Reported Deaths: 5357
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57625545
Linn20536311
Scott18203205
Black Hawk16187286
Woodbury14875211
Johnson1374173
Dubuque13480194
Dallas1123790
Pottawattamie10716140
Story1012945
Warren550271
Clinton540783
Cerro Gordo531080
Webster515686
Marshall493772
Sioux491568
Buena Vista469736
Des Moines455059
Muscatine446789
Wapello4261107
Jasper406865
Plymouth393377
Lee373551
Marion356969
Jones293854
Henry292535
Carroll284048
Bremer276554
Crawford272035
Boone258230
Washington253145
Benton250454
Mahaska223145
Jackson220438
Dickinson216338
Tama211564
Kossuth206954
Clay192925
Hamilton191641
Delaware188539
Winneshiek186926
Fayette184033
Buchanan183630
Page181619
Hardin179638
Wright179131
Harrison178969
Cedar175522
Clayton168153
Butler165731
Floyd162439
Mills162420
Cherokee153535
Madison153418
Poweshiek153429
Hancock146529
Lyon145441
Iowa143823
Allamakee143644
Appanoose138447
Grundy138230
Jefferson137532
Winnebago137530
Calhoun133010
Cass132448
Mitchell130040
Louisa127941
Union125931
Chickasaw124613
Sac123718
Emmet120740
Shelby119933
Franklin118319
Humboldt116725
Guthrie116028
Montgomery104036
Palo Alto103921
Howard102421
Clarke99220
Keokuk97529
Unassigned9300
Monroe92628
Adair91626
Ida90732
Pocahontas85419
Davis82223
Monona81525
Greene76610
Lucas73121
Osceola70014
Worth6907
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5729
Van Buren55818
Ringgold51416
Wayne48621
Audubon4839
Adams3244
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