When House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy pushed back on President Donald Trump’s Spygate concerns during a Fox News interview Tuesday, mainstream media outlets and pundits splashed the South Carolina Republican’s comments everywhere.
But when Gowdy rebuked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, for doing a “disservice” to the nation by portraying Trump himself as a main “target” of Russian collusion allegations, the same media figures ignored or buried the comment.
“Schiff said he had evidence of collusion before we even began the investigation, and 60 Democrats have voted to impeach [Trump] before [special counsel Robert] Mueller has come up with a single solitary finding,” Gowdy told Fox News host Martha MacCallum.
“But remember, Martha, it was President Trump himself who said, number one, ‘I didn’t collude with the Russians but if anyone connected with my campaign did, I want the FBI to find that out.’”
“It looks to me like the FBI was doing what President Trump said I want you to do, find it out. He is not the target,” Gowdy continued. “So, when Schiff and others don’t make that clear, they’re doing the disservice to our fellow citizens. He is not the target.”
The New York Times first reported May 17 that the FBI used an informant to befriend three Trump campaign officials in 2016 and collect insider information from them. Trump directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) May 20 to determine whether the FBI infiltrated his campaign for political purposes.
The DOJ inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has added the Spygate controversy to his already lengthy list of DOJ and FBI controversies to investigate.
But former Obama administration intelligence officials and lawmakers rebuked Trump and downplayed his concerns, insisting that the informant didn’t infiltrate the Trump campaign and wasn’t really spying. And if he was spying, it was against the Russians, not the Trump campaign, they insisted.
After Gowdy gave his interview, CNN published a piece titled, “Gowdy says FBI ‘did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do’ in Russia investigation” and a video called, “Rep. Gowdy discredits Trump’s spy claims.” A CNN chyron even pulled Fox News into the mix with a chyron proclaiming, “GOP’s Gowdy Refutes Trump, Nunes, Fox ‘Spy’ Conspiracy.”
ABC News published a piece titled, “Gowdy disputes Trump’s ‘spy’ claim, says FBI acted properly.” The Washington Post posted a piece titled, “Trey Gowdy exposes the GOP’s cowardice.” The Huffington Post published a piece called “GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy Contradicts Trump On ‘Informant’ Claim.”
Gowdy told MacCallum, “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. And that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
But Gowdy admitted he found it odd that the FBI didn’t offer Trump a defensive briefing during the campaign to notify him of his three campaign officials’ Russian contacts.
“I think defensive briefings are done a lot. And why the [former FBI Director James] Comey FBI didn’t do it? I don’t know, but [FBI Director] Chris Wray and [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein have at least made it clear to us, Donald Trump was never the target of the investigation,” Gowdy said. “He is not the current target of the investigation.”
Gowdy even said he believes that Wray and Rosenstein “are stunned whenever people think Trump is the target of their investigation.”
But the media were more concerned with Gowdy’s defense of the FBI and how that may have undermined Trump than they were with his rebuke of Schiff.
Schiff became a media darling during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and frequently appears on TV, radio and digital networks to rebut the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and his concerns about anti-Trump bias within the FBI and Department of Justice.
At the end of the day, lawmakers like Schiff will have a lot of walking back to do regarding their collusion claims, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), now a Fox News contributor, predicted.
“When you talk to a Democrat and you ask him for what is their very best evidence that there was this supposed collusion, they don’t come up with anything,” Chaffetz, the former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Tuesday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”
“That’s why the markets and I think most of the country looks at this and says, ‘Adam Schiff, you promised an awful lot and delivered nothing, because there’s a big ‘nothing-burger’ here,'” Chaffetz continued.
Even Sen. Mark Warner (R-Va.), the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged his fellow Democrats Wednesday to take a step back from making Russian collusion and impeaching Trump their rallying cry going into the 2018 midterm elections.
“The notion for those who may be partisans in the crowd and say, ‘Gosh, if the Democrats take control, they’ll be able to really ramp these up,’ I think the American public will be tired of it if this is not wound down in this calendar year,” Warner warned Wednesday during an appearance at the Code Conference, a digital technology industry trade event.