Over the last 72 hours, the President of the United States has leaned into a conspiracy theory that goes like this: During the 2016 presidential race, President Barack Obama – via the FBI – placed a “spy” within Trump’s campaign for purely political reasons.
Trump made that charge plain in a tweet Friday morning:
“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain? And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!”
There’s a tendency to write this latest Trump claim off as Trump being Trump. He has proven time and again that he is willing to stray from established facts in pursuit of a narrative that is more favorable to him – from the size of his inauguration crowds to the idea that Obama ordered a wiretap on him during the last presidential campaign.
But the fact that this is what Trump does shouldn’t distract us from the allegations here: Donald Trump is saying his predecessor as president used the leading law enforcement entity in the country to spy on him because Obama/the “deep state” didn’t want someone as unconventional as Trump to be president.
To be clear: There is zero public evidence that Trump’s claims are anywhere close to the truth.
What we know is that the FBI used a confidential human source to talk to several Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, during the campaign. The bureau did so because it had concerns about conversations those two men had with Russians. The confidential source was deployed to suss out what the Russians had told Page and Papadopoulos so as to gain insight into Russian meddling efforts. The source was never “placed” or “embedded” in Trump’s campaign.
That’s what we know, according to knowledgeable sources who have spoken to CNN among other media outlets. On Thursday, the Department of Justice held two briefings for a select group of congressional lawmakers to go over classified information about the confidential source and how he was used. After those meetings, none of the Republicans who attended had much of anything to say; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said only that nothing he learned surprised him.
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who attended both briefings,