Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) said Wednesday that he believes the FBI acted properly in using an informant to obtain information about contacts between Trump campaign personnel and Russian officials.
“When the FBI comes into contact with information about what a foreign government may be doing in our election cycle, I think they have an obligation to run it out,” Gowdy told CBS This Morning. “Based on what I have seen, I don’t know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia, I would think you would want the FBI to find out whether there was any validity to what those people were saying.”
The South Carolina lawmaker said that his defense of the FBI was informed by an intelligence briefing he attended on Capitol Hill last week with House speaker Paul Ryan and Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. During the briefing, he said that he and and his colleagues were given access to classified information proving Russia — not the Trump campaign, as many Republicans have claimed — was the ultimate target of the investigation.
“I think the FBI, if they were at the table this morning, they would tell you that Russia was the target and Russia’s intentions toward our country were the target. The fact that two people who were loosely connected to the Trump campaign may have been involved doesn’t diminish the fact that Russia was the target and not the campaign,” he said.
Gowdy’s comments stand in stark contrast to president Trump’s frequent characterization of the FBI’s surveillance as “spying” on his campaign for nefarious political purposes. Asked why Trump insists on using the term “spy” to refer to the campaign informant, who reportedly met with foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos as well as two other senior campaign officials, Gowdy said that he was entirely unfamiliar with the use of the word in an official context.
“’Undercover,’ ‘informant,’ ‘confidential informant’ — those are all words I’m familiar with. I’ve never heard the term ‘spy’ used,” Gowdy said, adding that he believes Trump would stop criticizing the FBI if he were privy to the classified information revealed during the briefing. “I think his lawyers have an obligation to share with him what Devin [Nunes] and Paul [Ryan] and I saw last week. I’m convinced when he sees it, he’s going to say, ‘You know what, that’s what I told [James] Comey I wanted the FBI to do.’”