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Graham: Trump 'probably' shouldn't call use of FBI informant 'spygate'

The Hill logo The Hill 5/25/2018 Max Greenwood

Lindsey Graham wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Friday that President Trump "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 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.

"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 Papadopoulos, 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 Clapper, have said 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."

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