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 TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency 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 SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters. 

Schiff said he was reading the statement on behalf of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? Pelosi: GOP's 2019 agenda a 'nightmare' for working families, seniors Dem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (D-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe 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 RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE (R-Wis.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy requests FEMA administrator’s travel records amid allegations Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe 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.