Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) is now the third Republican lawmaker to break with President Donald Trump in his assessment of the use of a government informant to meet with aides in his campaign who were in contact with Russian officials during the 2016 election, according to Politico.
“What is the point of saying that there was a spy in the campaign when there was none?” Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Politico Wednesday. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like, ‘Lets create this thing to tweet about knowing that it’s not true.’ … Maybe it’s just to create more chaos but it doesn’t really help the case.”
Trump has claimed that the informant was a “spy” sent by the Obama administration to infiltrate his campaign and has seized on the reports as evidence of his belief in a “deep state” within the FBI that’s biased against him. As a President with a penchant for monikers, Trump has labeled the whole ordeal “spygate.”
Rooney’s pushback on Trump’s “spy” outcries is the most aggressive yet from a top Republican. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was the first Republican to push back against Trump’s claims when he said during a TV interview last week that the FBI acted responsibly in deploying an informant to investigate the Russia lead.
On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in weaker terms than Rooney, said he sided with Gowdy in his “initial assessment” and said there was “no evidence” to support Trump’s claims of inappropriate behavior by the FBI.