Dems after briefing: 'No evidence' spy placed in Trump campaign

Congressional Democrats said after a closed-door briefing with top Justice Department officials Thursday that there is "no evidence" that the FBI placed a spy in the Trump campaign, hitting back at a claim by 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.

"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols," Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Top intel chief: I don't know what Trump, Putin discussed in meeting White House: Trump 'disagrees' with Putin's request to question Americans MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters. 

Schiff said he was reading the statement on behalf of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia GOP looks to blunt Dems’ attacks on rising premiums Who will be the ‘bridge’ for the Democrats? MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Bipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Senate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting MORE (D-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Judge Kavanaugh confounds the left This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (D-N.Y.), who also attended the meeting.

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The statement came after FBI, Justice Department and intelligence officials held two meetings to brief lawmakers about an FBI informant who has become the latest controversy in the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

The informant reportedly had contact with three members of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has asserted without evidence that the Justice Department put a "spy" in his campaign. 

“Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit," Trump tweeted last week, quoting Fox Business Network anchor David Asman.

"Really bad stuff!" the president added.

Reps. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes used political donations for K in NBA tickets, winery tours, Vegas trips: report Russia raises problems for GOP candidates GOP lawmaker regrets appearing on Alex Jones's radio show MORE (Calif.) and Schiff – the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, respectively – attended the first meeting at the Justice Department on Thursday, which was also arranged for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia National Dems make play in Ohio special election Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin MORE (R-Wis.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyWill Congress ever hold our federal agencies accountable for contempt? Dem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting MORE (R-S.C.).

The second meeting included members of the "Gang of Eight," which is composed of the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate as well as the top Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committees in both chambers.

Democrats blasted House Republicans and the White House over the first meeting, a closed-door briefing in which only Republicans were initially invited. It was later revealed that Schiff, the top House Intelligence Committee Democrat, attended both meetings.

Warner, leaving the broader bipartisan meeting, referred to the first briefing as "rogue." 

"I call the noon meeting a rogue meeting," he told reporters. "The Gang of Eight meeting ... I hope they will continue with that appropriate process on any kind of effort going forward."

In addition to DOJ, FBI and intelligence officials, Emmet Flood – a White House lawyer handling the Russia investigation – and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE stopped by both meetings Thursday. 

“Neither Chief Kelly nor Mr. Flood actually attended the meetings but did make brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Warner confirmed that White House staff left before the "substance" of the meeting started, but said their appearance at the meeting was itself unusual.

"Never seen a Gang of Eight meeting that included any presence from the White House staff," he said.

"Those individuals left before the substance began. Unusual times.”

– Katie Bo contributed reporting

Updated: 5:10 p.m.