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: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Barr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday MORE (R-S.C.) said on Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll 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 PapadopoulosFree Roger Stone A tale of two lies: Stone, McCabe and the danger of a double standard for justice California Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat 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 ClapperTrump's nomination of an unqualified DNI undermines bipartisan intelligence reform Free Roger Stone The risk of a politicized national intelligence director 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."