President Donald Trump said he is running a ‘cleanup’ operation as he roots after what he terms FBI ‘spying’ on his campaign, and said he did a ‘great service’ to the nation by firing FBI Director James Comey.
He said he ‘hopes’ the conduct he termed ‘spygate’ didn’t happen, even as he blasted the FBI for ‘illegal’ snooping on his campaign.
Trump said Wednesday FBI documents will reveal a lot of ‘bad things happened’ during the campaign – as he repeatedly branded the use of an FBI informant ‘Spygate.’
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said if spying did occur: ‘There’s never been anything like it in the history of our country.’
He rejected claims that by pressing the Justice Department to in effect investigate the FBI, rather than allowing the investigation of Russian meddling in the elections run its course, was an effort to squelch the probe.
CLEANUP MAN: ‘What we’re doing is we’re cleaning everything up. It’s so important. What I’m doing is a service to this country,’ said President Trump on Wednesday
‘We’re not undercutting. We’re cleaning everything up. This was a terrible situation,’ Trump told reporters on the South lawn before taking off for New York.
‘What we’re doing is we’re cleaning everything up. It’s so important. What I’m doing is a service to this country. And I did a great service to this country by firing James Comey,’ he said, bringing up the fired FBI director who blasted his latest twitter attacks on the FBI.
‘A lot of people have said it,’ Trump said.
‘I think James Comey’s got a lot of problems. If you look at what he did. If you look at all of the lies the tremendous lies, if you look at all that’s going on I think James Comey’s got a lot of problems,’ Trump said.
Trump spoke about what he calls ‘spygate’ at the White House
Asked what proof he had that the FBI spied on his campaign, Trump responded: ‘All you have to do is look at the basics and you’ll see.’ But even as he leveled the accusation, the president said he ‘hoped’ it didn’t occur.
‘It looks like a very serious event. But we’ll find out when they look at the documents. I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happened. I hope it’s not so. Because if it is, there’s never been anything like it in the history of our country,’ Trump said.
Asked if he thought President Barack Obama knew about what he termed spying, Trump said: ‘I don’t want to get into it yet. But I will tell you after we look at the proof. Would he know? I would certainly hope not. But I think it’s going to be pretty obvious after a while.’
Comey tweeted Wednesday: ‘Facts matter. The FBI’s use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?’
Trump spoke to reporters as he headed to New York
Comey also wrote: ‘Dangerous time when our country is led by those who will lie about anything, backed by those who will believe anything, based on information from media sources that will say anything. Americans must break out of that bubble and seek truth.’
Earlier Wednesday, Trump borrowed the term ‘SPYGATE’ from the National Football League on Wednesday to describing a growing controversy over reports that the FBI used confidential informants to keep tabs on his campaign advisers who with previous links to Russia.
‘SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!’ the president tweeted.
The NFL’s Spygate saga involved league sanctions against the 2007 New England Patriots for secretly videotaping the rival New York Jets’ defensive coaching signals during a game.
But Trump, a longtime Patriots admirer, is casting himself in the Jets’ role and claiming the Obama administration’s Justice Department illegally spied on him as he sparred with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016.
Donald Trump branded as ‘SPYGATE’ the scandal surrounding claims that the Obama administration’s FBI sent an informant to snoop on his 2016 presidential campaign
Academic Stefan Halper was identified this week as an FBI informant who met with advisers to Trump’s campaign – people who thought they were being spied on for the feds
The president also took a page from former chief strategist Steve Bannon’s playbook, claiming a ‘Criminal Deep State’ left over from his predecessor’s DOJ has tried to derail him with an extended Russia probe – and is now getting its public comeuppance.
‘Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State,’ he gloated on Twitter. ‘They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!’
Trump has gone all-in with allegations that a ‘spy’ was embedded in his campaign on the orders of an overly partisan Obama administration.
Reporters have confirmed that Stefan Halper, a 73-year-old former Cambridge University professor, tried to cozy up to three Trump aides, likely under orders from the FBI.
The president on Wednesday blamed a partisan ‘Criminal Deep State’ in the FBI for going after him, and suggested the spy scandal is their comeuppance
Two of those men, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, were Trump foreign policy advisers with longstanding consulting relationships in Russia. Sam Clovis, the third, hired them both to join the campaign.
Without naming him, the president claimed Tuesday night that Halper ‘never reported collusion with Russia’ and was ‘only there to spy for political reasons.’
He also referred to a ‘seemingly massive amount of money’ paid to the informant – a reference to unrelated contracts that paid him nearly $1 million over a preiod of years from a Defense Department sub-agency.
‘If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal,’ he blasted out to 50 million followers.
Trump’s Tuesday evening tweets referred to fears that Halper was sent to charm his aides in order to push the DOJ’s Russia probe
George Papadopoulos (left) and Carter Page (right) were among the Trump aides who met with Halper in 2016
Former adviser Sam Clovis hired both Page and Papadopoulos, making him a target for FBI surveillance
‘Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!’
Claims about an FBI informant in the Trump campaign have swirled around Washington for weeks, with right-wing pundits insisting a shadowy figure was permanently embedded with the future president and his advisers.
That doesn’t appear to be the case, but former Trump insider Michael Caputo claimed Tuesday that a second man, not Halper, approached him in a way that suggested he was spying for the feds.
Ramping up the rhetoric, Trump on Sunday demanded the Department of Justice investigate ‘whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes’ – a thinly veiled hint that Barack Obama was behind it all.
The Department of Justice has asked its Office of Inspector General to look into the claims.
STEFAN HALPER’S TARGETS IN TRUMPWORLD
CIA-linked Cambridge professor Stefan Halper tried to get close to at least three Donald Trump advisers in 2016 and 2017, reportedly to learn for the FBI whether they were links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Here’s a look at some of the key figures in the latest drama in Trump-world:
Stefan Halper is an an academic who cultivated figures in Donald Trump’s campaign
Carter Page was a Trump advisor that drew immediate interest of investigators due to his longstanding Russia ties. The New York Times reported that a government informant met with him several times during the campaign.
He is mentioned repeatedly in the Steele dossier, and was the subject of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant that authorized monitoring of his activities.
Former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page makes a presentation titled ‘Departing from Hypocrisy: Potential Strategies in the Era of Global Economic Stagnation, Security Threats and Fake News’ during his December 2016 visit to Moscow
Papadopoulos was one of just a handful of early foreign policy advisors identified by President Trump at the start of his campaign. His boozy chat with the top Australian diplomat in London helped kick off the Russia probe. Halper met with him several times during the campaign.
Halper arranged for him to get paid $3,000 for a policy paper on energy issues, and emailed him about the status of the ‘collusion’ investigation
George Papadopoulos, whose boozy chat with the top Australian diplomat in London helped kick off the Russia probe
Halper met with Clovis offering to assist the campaign with his foreign policy expertise. Their conversations over coffee in northern Virginia focused on China, according to Clovis’ lawyer. He served as co-chair of Trump’s campaign and according to court records recruited Papadopoulos, a young aide without a long resume, to join the campaign.
Sam Clovis ran for office in Iowa and hosted a conservative radio show, then co-chaired Donald Trump’s campaign. He recruited George Papadopoulos to join the effort