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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 TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics 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 SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters. 

Schiff said he was reading the statement on behalf of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerNew US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations Democrats brace for new 'defund the police' attacks Intelligence leaders push for mandatory breach notification law MORE (D-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform 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 NunesSunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference 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 RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyPompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy The Hunter Biden problem won't go away Sunday shows preview: Joe Biden wins the 2020 election 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.