Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Democrats attempted Thursday to deny President Donald Trump’s claims of “Spygate” after they emerged from a bipartisan briefing about the FBI’s investigation into his 2016 campaign.
Following their lead, the mainstream media have labeled “Spygate” a “conspiracy theory” — even though Obama administration officials like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have admitted to the spying.
Schiff, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, emerged from Thursday’s briefing to read a statement on behalf of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, attacking Trump’s claims:
Today’s “Gang of Eight” briefing was conducted to ensure protection of sources and methods. Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there’s 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.
That is the basis for claims like MSNBC’s “Trump’s nonsensical ‘Spygate’ conspiracy theory ends with a whimper.”
But a careful reading of Schiff’s statement reveals that he and Democratic leaders are attempting to fool the public.
First, it is important to note that Democrats, and the mainstream media, are disputing the term “spy.” They admit that there was an “informant” but refuse to allow the term “spy,” though in this context it means the same thing.
Second, note that Schiff said that Democrats merely said their “view”of the evidence has not changed. He did not say, nor could he, that “no evidence” existed as a matter of undisputed fact — because the evidence is already public.
Third, and most crucially, Schiff said Democrats did not believe “the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign.” He did not deny that a spy, or spies, might have been recruited from within the campaign.
Note how Schiff’s statement moved from language covering all possibilities (“the FBI or any intelligence agency”) to language covering only one possibility (“placed a spy”). That is an incomplete denial, and likely a deliberate one.
Update: Melissa Francis of Fox News observed Friday that another reason “nothing” Democrats heard Thursday had changed their minds is that the Department of Justice failed to provide the documents that Congress requested.)
Finally, Schiff and the Democrats said that the FBI and the intelligence services “follow[ed] appropriate procedures and protocols.” That little coda is meant to suggest, as Clapper has argued, that whatever spying (or “informing”) took place was completely justified — i.e. it was an attempt to spy on the Russians from within the campaign, not on the campaign itself. That excuse, of course, presumes that there was collusion between the campaign and Russia.
In short, the statement Schiff delivered yesterday, and which Democrats and the media are relying on today, is the same nonsense that he has been feeding the public for two years in an effort to sustain the Russia conspiracy theory.
Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist summed it up perfectly Thursday in an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight:
Everyone knows that there was a spy and in fact people who were involved in the spying are admitting there’s a spy. They’re saying, though, because the government term is “human intelligence informant” or something like that that therefore it’s not a spy. Whereas normal Americans understand when you are gathering information on someone surreptitiously, that’s the common definition of spying. And more than that, that’s just a stunning revelation that this was happening under the previous administration that there would be this kind of surveillance, not just at least one human intelligence informant but also wiretaps, national security letters which are how can you secretly get a subpoena and who knows what else is going on like widespread spying involving multiple people in the Trump campaign and we still don’t really know what’s going on because they’re trying to fight answering.
That is the simple truth that Schiff, the Democrats, and the media are trying — and failing — to hide from the public.
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.