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 GrahamSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Kim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' MORE (R-S.C.) said on Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her 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 PapadopoulosFlynn sentencing move spurs questions about duration of Mueller probe Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe 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 ClapperFBI memos detail ‘partisan axes,’ secret conflicts behind the Russia election meddling assessment Foreign hackers a legitimate concern for ballot machines, says cybersecurity expert Dem strategist: 'Genuine concern' Russia will escalate interference efforts in 2018 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."