But the briefings themselves over the source became the latest political confrontation in the Russian Federation investigation after the White House initially only had invited Republicans to the Justice Department briefing on the confidential source.
A White House official had told NPR earlier in the day the administration didn't understand why it might be a problem for Kelly to be present at the meetings, at which top law enforcement and intelligence officials were to present secret information about the Department of Justice Russia probe.
Kelly and the White House have been brokering the conversations since Trump said on Twitter last weekend that he wanted to learn more about the FBI's use of confidential informants to interview campaign aides in 2016. He was a senior official who briefed reporters Thursday in a session set up by the White House press office, which set ground rules requiring that reporters not use his name.
Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said "there's never been a Gang of 8 meeting with a White House presence". "I do think, though, even knowing that, I'm not sure our reactions would have been any different".
After meeting with Trump on Monday, Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials agreed to speak with Nunes - which they viewed as a small concession, as they had previously offered a briefing that Nunes did not attend. Moderate Republicans were distressed that Trump politicized intelligence by holding classified briefings that excluded Democrats. The original meeting was scheduled for just Nunes and Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but the Justice Department relented and allowed additional lawmakers to come after Democrats strongly objected.
Emmet Flood, the White House attorney dealing with the Russian Federation investigation, attended part of the classified briefing and was spotted leaving the DOJ headquarters alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and White House chief of staff John Kelly.
The White House says in a statement that neither official actually attended the meetings but instead gave brief remarks before they started.More news: Richie Incognito In Gym Altercation, Cops Called
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But the attendee list for each meeting shifted nearly hourly, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Thursday morning that he would attend the first meeting and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi later announcing that Schiff would also attend the first meeting.
He began by slamming the media's "predictably dishonest" response, flagging CNN's Don Lemon when he insisted that President Trump "doubled down on his baseless claims" CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin when calling it a "fake issue", and MSNBC analyst David Corn labeling it a "phony baloney story". He says, "James Comey was one of them".
Also on Thursday, he once again slammed former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Donald Trump's decision to cancel a June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un is the latest dramatic twist in relations between two leaders who traded insults before laying the groundwork for what would have been a stunning rapprochement.
"Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign".
Trump now is zeroing in on - and at times embellishing - reports that a longtime US government informant approached members of his 2016 campaign during the presidential election in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election. Meanwhile, the White House handed out classified information on the professor to Republican political leaders even while decrying the "politicization" of intelligence.
The second briefing was for leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, as well as the bipartisan leaders of the congressional Intelligence panels.