House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said the evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is clear and that President Trump “needs to say that and act like it.”
“The president has access to every bit of evidence,” Mr. Gowdy, South Republican, told Fox News Sunday. “The evidence is overwhelming.”
Mr. Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, was reacting to Mr. Trump’s widely panned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
He said Mr. Trump missed an opportunity to bolster the U.S. intelligence community’s case against Russian actors by seeming to trust Mr. Putin, who said he didn’t meddle. Mr. Trump walked back the statement the next day.
“Every syllable matters and you really shouldn’t be having to correct it when you’re the leader of the free world,” Mr. Gowdy said.
At the same time, the top House investigator said he hasn’t seen any evidence that Mr. Trump actively colluded with Russians to gain an advantage during the 2016 campaign.
And he reissued his criticism of the FBI for how it handled its application to snoop on Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who was the subject of a “targeted recruitment” by the Russian government, according to the late Saturday release of previously top-secret documents used by the FBI to obtain a wiretap the former aide.
Mr. Gowdy said it’s OK to look into people who might have questionable ties to Russia, but agents should have been clear about their reliance on information in a “dossier” funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“I do have an issue when you rely on political opposition research that is unvetted,” Mr. Gowdy said.
He was referring to the FBI’s October 2016 application to obtain a wiretap from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch and several media outlets.
Mr. Gowdy said Mr. Page’s role shouldn’t be inflated, however, saying he is “more like Inspector Gadget than he is like Jason Bourne or James Bond.”