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 TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border 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 SchiffDems press Barr to make Mueller report public Schiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters. 

Schiff said he was reading the statement on behalf of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Can progressives govern? Dems plan hearing on emergency declaration's impact on military MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring Warner questions health care groups on cybersecurity Cohen to testify before Senate Intel on Tuesday MORE (D-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win 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 NunesThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears ‘Fox & Friends’ host asks if McCabe opening FBI probe into Trump was attempt to ‘overthrow government’ Nunes says GOP lawmakers looking through Russia transcripts, will make DOJ referrals 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 RyanFive takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump MORE (R-Wis.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe family secret Bruce Ohr told Rod Rosenstein about Russia case Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor Congress must take the next steps on federal criminal justice reforms 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.