Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is siding firmly with President Donald Trump in the so-called “Spygate” controversy, calling the FBI’s actions to uncover Russian interference in the 2016 campaign “not normal.”
Instead, it appears the FBI used an informant to contact Trump staffers who the FBI suspected may have information about Russia’s efforts to interfere with the election. That informant was not “implanted” into the campaign but instead met with members of Trump’s team to ferret out any ties to Russia.
Still, DeSantis says those actions were inappropriate. In an interview on “Fox and Friends” this morning, DeSantis says the FBI should have carried out those efforts differently.
“If you had a problem with somebody on the periphery of the campaign, the obvious thing to do is to go brief the campaign and brief Donald Trump,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis seems to be echoing concerns by some that the FBI appeared to be targeting Trump himself rather than the Russians.
“When you are deploying surveillance powers, counterintelligence powers, against an opposition party’s campaign, that is not normal, and I think that is not what Americans want the FBI to be doing.”
That’s a break from statements from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Rubio defended the FBI’s actions: “As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign, but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of, that predate the presidential campaign of 2015, 2016.”
“And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should look at people like that.”
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also said the FBI’s actions during the 2016 campaign were appropriate.
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do,” said Gowdy, a Republican.
That DeSantis is splitting with other high-profile Republicans is nothing new for him or supporters of the president more broadly. Trump has routinely attacked Republicans such as Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, John McCain and others who have occasionally acted against the president’s interests.
DeSantis has clearly thrown himself behind Trump in his bid for the governorship, now supporting attacks on the FBI that even his fellow Republicans say are unsubstantiated.
How that will play out in the Republican primary remains to be seen.
Republican voters will choose their nominee for Governor August 28.