Fox News host Tucker Carlson put California Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell on the defensive on Wednesday as the lawmaker tried to justify the FBI’s reported use of an informant to infiltrate the Trump presidential campaign.
“Why is it ok for an administration to hire an informant to spy on a rival political campaign?” Carlson asked Swalwell, who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“That’s not what happened,” the representative fired back, arguing only Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has described what the FBI did in that way after being recently briefed by the Justice Department.
Swalwell pointed to others like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who were also briefed, disputing the spying characterization.
Carlson replied that those Republican leaders’ position on the issue is “ludicrous.”
"Why is it ok for an administration to hire an informant to spy on a rival political campaign?"@TuckerCarlson posed this question to @RepSwalwell, who struggled with it mightily. pic.twitter.com/wGxtePHJ5R
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 7, 2018
“The Obama administration paid an informant to spy on the Trump campaign and then pass that information back to the Obama administration and then never told the Trump campaign,” the Fox News personality said.
Swalwell stuck to the position that the work of an informant is different from spying and “entirely appropriate” in relation to monitoring the Trump campaign.
“Informants are commonly used in a lot of cases to help us catch bad guys,” he said. “If it was used here from the evidence I have seen, it would be entirely appropriate.”
“We would want to know everything about how close the Trumps were getting to the Russians,” Swalwell added.
On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul charged the Obama administration’s FBI and CIA with seeking to “entrap” members of Trump’s presidential campaign, through the use of an informant.
“I think it’s unseemly that the FBI was putting informants in there trying to extract and entrap members of the Trump campaign,” he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “I think it’s incredibly inappropriate and an abuse of power.”
Paul made references to specific actions reportedly taken by FBI informant Stefan Halper, a Cambridge professor with ties to both American and British intelligence.
“He’s going and asking leading questions of people,” the lawmaker said. “He’s paying people money to get them to London.”
The latter was a reference to Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos, who is said to have met with Halper in London.
“There is even some who say that the whole running into the Australian deputy ambassador over drinks with (Papadopoulos) was not sort of a random (event),” Paul stated. “That’s entrapment. That’s something we’re not supposed to be involved with.”
The FBI used Papadopoulos’ statement to the diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had dirt on Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton as justification to launch its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, according to The New York Times.
On Thursday, former George W. Bush Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Dupree told Cavuto that the FBI employing an informant in a presidential race is “highly unusual.”
He contended that the FBI director and officials in the highest echelons of the DOJ, and perhaps even the White House, would have had to approve the move.
Dupree said, “I can’t tell you how many ways this is drilled into you at the Justice Department. Is when you are engaging in politically sensitive, areas that touch on campaigns, elections, First Amendment rights, that is something where you have to get higher level approval before you can move ahead.”
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