Rep. Gowdy discredits Trump's spy claims

CNN's Don Lemon speaks to David Axelrod about Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) recent appearance on Fox News, where he said he believes the FBI acted how citizens "would want them to ... and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump."

Posted: May 30, 2018 3:04 PM
Updated: May 30, 2018 3:04 PM

Following last week's unfounded claim from the White House that the FBI illegally spied on the Trump campaign for political purposes, the Department of Justice took the unprecedented step of meeting with lawmakers in two classified sessions to discuss the details of the bureau's original counterintelligence investigation.

The silence from House Republicans since the briefings has been deafening. Until now.

Immediately following the meetings, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA) addressed the press, saying he saw no evidence the FBI acted improperly. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) finally echoed those claims Tuesday on Fox News, going so far as saying the FBI responded precisely in the manner the American people would have expected of them, and that the investigation was not about Trump but was instead responding to a national security threat.

After the men and women of the FBI were unfairly labeled crooks, isn't an apology in order?

To make sense of the damage being brought to the agency's reputation, it is important to revisit exactly how the latest assault on the FBI came into existence. Just when our institutions of justice seemed to be enjoying a temporary cessation of hostilities from a White House seeking to defend itself from allegations of impropriety, the President unloaded a fresh salvo on Twitter -- his preferred method of communication -- and accused the FBI of criminal activity.

His information appeared to stem from media reports indicating a bureau informant had been used to collect information for a lawful counterintelligence investigation seeking to determine whether Russian agents had worked to influence an American election.

What followed was a coordinated campaign to unearth the identity of the informant, with House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes even going so far as to subpoena the Justice Department for information about the source, thereby bulldozing the long-standing norm that congressional officials would respect the intelligence community's need to protect sources and methods.

Ever the marketing maven, President Trump sought to rebrand this informant with the pejorative label of "spy," even going so far as to announce his own freshly minted scandal he would theatrically name "Spygate."

The problems with this recent episode are twofold. The most serious is the chilling effect these actions will have on the government's ability to convince individuals with access to information to risk their own safety and privacy in the service of our country. Put simply, these actions will make our country less safe because it will be harder for FBI agents and CIA officers around the world to convince potential sources that their identities will not be exploited by politicians with partisan agendas.

The second problem with this political war being waged on the FBI is that it is simply grounded in falsehoods. The FBI does not run "spies," but, rather, human sources, who are the most highly regulated and scrutinized investigative tools in the FBI's arsenal of techniques used to identify and neutralize national security and criminal threats.

Labeling someone working for law enforcement as a spy is simply a creative way of manipulating public opinion and casting doubt on a revered institution. You can have a witch hunt without witches, but you can't have a Spygate without spies.

When I served as an FBI special agent, I was responsible for identifying, recruiting, and handling sources who collected invaluable intelligence that was necessary to prevent threats posed by extremists and hostile foreign intelligence services.

In order to use a source, an FBI special agent must continually navigate a complex oversight system responsible for ensuring sources are used legally and add value to investigative efforts. The approval process for utilizing a source to further an investigation involving a presidential candidate would have immediately skyrocketed to the top levels of FBI and Justice Department leadership.

So, why then do we see this continued campaign against the FBI? As I wrote in The New York Times in February, many inside the FBI believe the constant stream of political attacks is simply meant to undermine the credibility of the organization. Doing so will presumably help soften the blow in the event that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who now leads the government's efforts to investigate Russian interference following the firing of my former boss James Comey, ultimately finds wrongdoing on the part of White House.

This is nothing short of a political campaign to discredit those doing the investigating, in order to render their eventual conclusions questionable.

Let's be clear. To date, there has been zero evidence the FBI acted improperly in its investigation. The actions by the White House and Republicans on the House Intelligence committee will only further strain an already fractured relationship with those in law enforcement charged with upholding the rule of law. They don't take kindly to being called criminals.

The only appropriate way forward is for those elected leaders who have been castigating law enforcement and violating sacred norms involving sources and methods to immediately cease in their efforts and publicly apologize for these baseless claims. Doing so might in some small way help repair the damage to a law enforcement agency that must maintain public support to be effective.

An apology will also possibly signal to potential human sources around the world that this entire unfortunate episode was simply an aberration, and exposing sensitive sources and methods in this instance was merely an ill-advised exception and not some dangerous new rule.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 445047

Reported Deaths: 5955
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin924911470
Ramsey39703735
Dakota32788331
Anoka30811360
Washington20004225
Stearns17775185
St. Louis13546240
Scott1189996
Wright11548102
Olmsted1035775
Sherburne815765
Carver691436
Clay648478
Rice600166
Kandiyohi552871
Blue Earth538033
Crow Wing479673
Otter Tail453464
Chisago449732
Benton416785
Winona386246
Douglas372466
Nobles366746
Mower362328
Goodhue343657
Polk327756
McLeod323144
Morrison310043
Beltrami308746
Lyon299835
Itasca282643
Becker281738
Isanti281141
Carlton278143
Steele27119
Pine265113
Freeborn241320
Todd230929
Nicollet223336
Brown213734
Mille Lacs212845
Le Sueur208515
Cass206123
Meeker198533
Waseca188816
Martin169126
Wabasha16883
Roseau165316
Hubbard148338
Redwood139227
Renville136539
Houston135313
Dodge13304
Chippewa130832
Cottonwood126518
Fillmore12215
Wadena119416
Rock109512
Sibley10797
Aitkin107133
Watonwan10618
Faribault104615
Pennington97715
Kanabec97218
Pipestone93823
Yellow Medicine93314
Murray8655
Jackson85010
Swift83018
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6978
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65616
Lake62915
Wilkin6229
Koochiching59010
Lincoln4821
Big Stone4543
Unassigned43468
Grant4257
Norman4228
Mahnomen4087
Kittson37019
Red Lake3164
Traverse2473
Lake of the Woods1801
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 303065

Reported Deaths: 4267
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45335447
Linn17673274
Scott15356163
Black Hawk13648236
Woodbury12945175
Johnson1202149
Dubuque11300149
Pottawattamie8934112
Dallas881171
Story863434
Webster467471
Cerro Gordo462968
Sioux453356
Clinton448361
Warren437538
Marshall425561
Buena Vista391529
Muscatine386177
Des Moines380641
Plymouth348868
Wapello340898
Jasper319658
Lee313530
Marion301752
Jones269649
Henry263230
Carroll253034
Bremer242048
Crawford228122
Boone216217
Washington214231
Benton208544
Jackson190831
Mahaska190736
Tama185657
Dickinson184226
Delaware172236
Kossuth170543
Clay166019
Wright162724
Fayette159522
Buchanan158023
Hamilton157829
Winneshiek154819
Harrison154462
Hardin153929
Cedar151419
Clayton150748
Butler146424
Page143715
Cherokee138127
Floyd137936
Mills136016
Lyon133632
Poweshiek132324
Hancock128824
Allamakee126827
Iowa122822
Calhoun12209
Grundy120026
Jefferson119524
Madison11869
Winnebago118229
Mitchell115634
Louisa114130
Cass112541
Chickasaw110512
Emmet110231
Sac110215
Appanoose109638
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102224
Shelby101326
Franklin101218
Unassigned9210
Palo Alto9019
Keokuk84325
Montgomery84022
Howard82519
Monroe80518
Clarke7817
Pocahontas77211
Ida73830
Greene6887
Davis68721
Adair68620
Lucas6468
Osceola6349
Monona63316
Worth5983
Taylor5919
Fremont5036
Van Buren49412
Decatur4784
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
Audubon4108
Adams2953
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