Graham: Trump 'probably' shouldn't call use of FBI informant 'spygate'

Graham: Trump 'probably' shouldn't call use of FBI informant 'spygate'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria Polling analyst: Changes to legal immigration ‘the real sticking point among Democrats’ Graham would consider US-Russia military coordination in Syria MORE (R-S.C.) said on Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE "probably" shouldn't use the term "spygate" to refer to the FBI's use of a top-secret informant in the early months of the counterintelligence probe into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Graham said that he doesn't think that the informant, identified in media reports as American academic Stefan Halper, is a spy. 

Asked by Hewitt if Trump should be referring to the matter as "spygate," Graham demurred. 

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"I don’t know. Probably not, but I don’t know," he said. "I didn’t go to the meeting. I don’t think it’s — I don’t think he’s a spy. And I don’t know who this person was."

Graham's comments came a day after select lawmakers met with top Justice Department officials to discuss the FBI's use of the informant. The South Carolina Republican did not attend either of the two meetings.

Trump and his allies have suggested in recent days that the FBI used the informant to spy on his presidential campaign for political purposes, and have sought to expose the role of the source. 

The informant reportedly met with at least three Trump campaign advisers — George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosWife of Papadopoulos interviews with House Intel Dems Mueller probing Roger Stone following Russian hacker indictment: report Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE, Sam Clovis and Carter Page — in 2016, but no evidence has emerged that the FBI spied on the campaign. 

Former intelligence officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThere was nothing remotely treasonous in Trump's performance with Putin The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump eyes second Putin summit Clapper: Intel officials showed Trump evidence of Putin's role in election meddling MORE, have said that the Obama administration was merely trying to assess what actions Russia was taking in the 2016 election. 

In a tweet on Friday morning, Trump claimed that the informant was used long before the FBI ever launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which he called a "witch hunt."