Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) claimed this week that Americans want the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) snooping in political campaigns, even as he undermined President Donald Trump’s claims of a “spy” in his own.
Those remarks, which Gowdy made to Fox News‘ Martha MacCallum on Tuesday evening and on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, made Gowdy an instant hero to Democrats to the media, were met with blistering criticism from conservatives.
Gowdy told MacCallum that he could not explain why former FBI director James Comey did not give the Trump campaign a “defensive briefing,” if their real concern was to protect the campaign from Russian infiltration. But he added: “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got. And that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
It is not clear how Gowdy arrived at the conclusion that Americans would want the FBI to send a spy, or “informant” — the term preferred by former Obama intelligence chief James Clapper — to campaigns, particularly those run by the political opposition.
In addition, Gowdy told CBS that he had “never heard the term ‘spy’ used” in his career as a federal prosecutor, adding: “Informants are used all day, every day by law enforcement.”
However, as conservative radio host Mark Levin pointed out on Wednesday evening, the investigation into Trump’s campaign was not a law enforcement investigation, but a counter-intelligence investigation, where terms like “spy” are used frequently to describe exactly the kind of information-gathering that the FBI’s informant had undertaken.
Later, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist reported that Gowdy had not even seen the evidence he would have needed to examine to arrive at the conclusions he had made on television:
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) recently suggested the FBI did nothing wrong when it used at least one government informant to secretly collect information on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Public reports indicate, however, that Gowdy never even reviewed the relevant documents on the matter subpoenaed by Congress. In fact, a spokeswoman for Gowdy told The Federalist that the congressman doesn’t even know what documents and records were subpoenaed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
That did not stop Democrats and the media from hailing Gowdy as a hero, however, for supposedly breaking partisan ranks to tell the truth.
The Los Angeles Times declared Thursday morning: “Spygate sputters.” It went on to cite Gowdy for saying he believed “the FBI acted appropriately.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.