WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Wednesday asserted that the FBI’s use of a confidential source to seek information from several campaign aides could turn out to be ‘‘one of the biggest political scandals in history!’’
The comments were Trump’s latest salvo over reports that the FBI used a confidential source in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
There is no evidence to suggest that the source was inserted into the Trump campaign, as the president has suggested, but the source did seek out and meet Trump campaign advisers.
Dubbing the episode ‘‘SPYGATE’’ on Twitter, Trump suggested the tables had now turned on those investigating his campaign for possible collusion with Russian, writing: ‘‘What goes around, comes around!’’
In a series of morning tweets, the president referred to those investigating him as the ‘‘Criminal Deep State,’’ claiming they had been ‘‘caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!’’
SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
The FBI source, a longtime Republican and former University of Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper, had contact with at least three advisers to Trump during the campaign. Trump and his allies have sought to cast that as inappropriate political spying.
In his tweets, Trump also quoted Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and frequent Fox News commentator, saying that ‘‘it’s clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump Campaign.’’ Napolitano appeared on ‘‘Fox & Friends’’ earlier Wednesday morning.
Trump and his aides have derisively used the term ‘‘deep state’’ to refer to long-serving unelected officials whom they claim are out to undermine his presidency.
?It?s clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump Campaign? Judge Andrew Napolitano— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
During a television appearance on Tuesday, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that the FBI never spied on the Trump campaign.
‘‘They were not. They were spying - a term I don’t particularly like - on what the Russians were doing,’’ Clapper said during an appearance on ABC’s ‘‘The View’’ to promote a new book.
The FBI, Clapper said, was simply trying to answer the question, ‘‘Were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence?’’
In a later tweet Wednesday morning, Trump took issue with Clapper’s assessment that the then-GOP nominee should have been grateful for the FBI’s surveillance.
‘‘No, James R. Clapper Jr., I am not happy,’’ Trump wrote. ‘‘Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!’’
?Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign? No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
The use of the confidential source has been at the fore of Trump and conservative lawmakers’ long-running feud with the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during the campaign.
On Tuesday, the White House said that two Republican lawmakers will be allowed to review classified information about the FBI source during a meeting Thursday with intelligence officials. The Justice Department had resisted sharing information, saying it jeopardized the source.
In New England, ‘Spygate’ is likely better known as the moniker attached to the fallout from the New York Jets reporting to the NFL that the Patriots recorded their signals during a game at Giants Stadium in 2007.