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by Sharon Rondeau

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

(May 24, 2018) — On Thursday evening, Fox News’s Ed Henry reported on “Hannity” that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes left two meetings apparently without the documentation the Republican-led committee has requested and subpoenaed from the U.S. Justice Department and FBI on the origin of the FBI’s “Russia” investigation now steered by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.

Also to be discussed was the revelation by The Washington Post and The New York Times that an “informant” was dispatched by the FBI to make contact with the 2016 Trump campaign.  Democrats have since said that the FBI did not use a “spy” to inappropriately surveil the campaign, but rather, to assess the efforts by Russia to infiltrate the campaign and sow election chaos.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper said on “The View” that while he was uncomfortable using the term “spy,” at least one human source was used by the FBI to ascertain the level, if any, of Russian attempts to penetrate and influence the Trump campaign.

Clapper has since said that he believes Russian interference tipped the election in Trump’s favor.

Mueller’s probe has netted indictments of two Trump-campaign figures and three guilty pleas; 13 Russians and three Russian-owned organizations have also been indicted for alleged election-meddling.

The first meeting on Thursday, held at noon, included Nunes, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, DNI Dan Coats, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and House Intel Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA), according to Fox and CNN.

The gathering was brokered by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly following Trump’s meeting with Rosenstein and Wray at the White House on Monday.

CNN reported that “At the last minute, the top Democrat on the Intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, was invited to the noon briefing with Nunes and Gowdy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters, a briefing for which no Democrats had been previously invited. Schiff will attend both briefings.”

An attorney for the White House, Emmett Flood, and Kelly made brief remarks at the beginning of the noon meeting, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders via Fox.

Schiff and other Democrats objected to Flood’s presence, claiming that “the president’s legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the President’s allies in Congress to their legal advantage.”

Democrats generally support Mueller’s probe, while Trump has called it “a witch hunt” and asked the Justice Department to investigate whether or not his campaign was spied on.  On Sunday afternoon, Rosenstein issued a statement agreeing that it was necessary to discover whether or not any improper actions by the US intelligence community had been taken during the 2016 campaign and directed the Justice Department’s Inspector General to widen his ongoing investigations into that area.

The second meeting on Thursday, scheduled for 2:00 p.m., included “Rosenstein, Wray, Coats, Gowdy, Republican and Democratic leaders from both the House and Senate, as well the top lawmakers from their intelligence panels,” Fox reported.  Eight leaders from the combined House and Senate, known colloquially as the “Gang of 8,” were invited.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called for the first meeting to be canceled in light of its potential, in his view, to “cause partisan trouble.”

In his report, Henry said that he spoke with Nunes after the meetings, who reportedly said that the DOJ and FBI continue to “sit on information” the Intel Committee has asked to see.  Henry said that Nunes said he “can’t discuss” the specifics or outcome of the meeting.

Schiff and Schumer said afterward that they saw “no evidence” showing that the FBI “or any intelligence agency” implanted a “spy” within the Trump campaign, but whether or not any documentation was presented by the DOJ or FBI is unknown.

A number of commentators, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, have said that if the FBI were surveilling the Trump campaign, Barack Obama would have known about and approved it.

Following Henry’s report, Fox News Legal Analyst Gregg Jarrett said that the FBI wold have had to have secured “the proper legal justification” to have utilized a secret informant to gather information on a political campaign.

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