During a White House briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to respond to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) debunking of President Trump’s accusations about the FBI “spying” on his campaign in 2016. It did not go well.
“Now that Trey Gowdy, who has actually seen all the classified intelligence on what the FBI was doing, says there was nothing to the allegations that they were spying on the Trump campaign — and in fact, Gowdy says that the FBI was doing exactly what they should have been doing — given what Trey Gowdy has said, is the president prepared to retract his allegation that the FBI was spying on his campaign?” ABC’s Jon Karl asked Sanders.
Instead of conceding there’s no merit to Trump’s accusations, Sanders suggested that Trump’s decision to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe for matters completely unrelated to “spygate” somehow supports the accusation that the FBI inappropriately surveilled his campaign.
“No, clearly there’s still cause for concern that needs to be looked at,” Sanders said. “Let’s not forget that the deputy director of the FBI was actually fired for misconduct. The president is concerned about the matter, and we’re going to continue to follow the issue.”
Karl followed up, pointing out to Sanders that “Gowdy was in the briefing, he knows what was done and he’e saying that these allegations are baseless, there was no spying on the Trump campaign.”
Sanders responded by again suggesting that McCabe’s firing for allegedly lacking candor during the Hillary Clinton email investigation somehow supports Trump’s baseless spying allegations.
“Like I just said the deputy director of the FBI was fired for misconduct,” Sanders said. “There were a number of things that have been reported on that show I think not just for the president, but a number of Americans, a large cause for concern.”
Sanders then called on another reporter, ignoring Karl’s follow-up question about what evidence she has to support her claims.
Asked to clarify her comments about Gowdy later during the briefing, Sanders resorted to citing the president’s comments as evidence that misconduct occurred, saying, “the president certainly has expressed very publicly his concerns, as has his outside counsel.”
Trump’s spying accusations are meant to muddy the waters of the Mueller investigation. Shortly after his “spygate” claims were debunked on Fox News on Tuesday night both by Gowdy and by Fox News’s Republican legal analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Trump — who has fabricated quotes to support his conspiracy theory — repeated the false claims extensively during a speech in Nashville, saying, “So how do you like the fact they had people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?”
“Can you imagine people infiltrating our campaign?” Trump continued. “Is there anybody in this big, beautiful arena right now that’s infiltrating our campaign? Would you please raise your hand?…You take a look at what’s going on. Never in the history of our country has something taken place like took place during this election.”