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 GrahamCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Warren: Officials have duty ‘to invoke 25th amendment’ if they think Trump is unfit MORE (R-S.C.) said on Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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 PapadopoulosMueller probe figures use fame to pay bills Schiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry 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 ClapperIntelligence chiefs should be commended, despite Trump's attacks on them Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller 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."