Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates argued President Donald Trump's pressure on the Department of Justice to probe whether it or the Federal Bureau of Investigation spied on his presidential campaign is "a step beyond a unsafe point". Initially offered only to Republicans, the briefings were the latest piece of stagecraft meant to publicize and bolster the allegations.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said after the meetings that Republicans are now "getting the cooperation necessary" to resolve their demands for the classified information.
President Trump's lawyers have reportedly made an offer for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to interview the president, but they want to narrow the scope to questions on Russia-related matters that occurred before the election; reaction and analysis from former federal prosecutor Steven Mulroy.
Mueller's team has sought in recent months to negotiate the terms of a possible interview with Trump.
Initially, the White House had planned for only House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes - its longtime co-conspirator in ginning up politically useful conspiracy theories - to receive this briefing. He was asked to contact several campaign figures whose names had already surfaced in the FBI's counterintelligence probe.
Borrowing a term from an National Football League controversy over cheating allegations made against the New England Patriots, Trump has called the affair "spygate" and referred to the informant as a "spy". Instead, Obama warned Putin privately during a summit in China - a move that officials thought was productive because the White House detected no further Russian attempts to tamper with state election databases, which was their chief worry at the time. The same officials were then to head to Capitol Hill to brief members of the Gang of Eight. House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Flood's involvement was "entirely improper".
The Justice Department declined to comment on the argument. 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. He is demanding that the Department of Justice investigate an investigation into his campaign - a break with all manner of precedent relating to the DOJ's independence.
The informant, an American academic who served in past Republican administrations, approached at least three Trump campaign advisers who had been in contact with suspected Russian agents.
While the president has continued to tweet denunciations of what he's calling "SPYGATE", there's no evidence the informant worked inside his campaign.
"It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of "any links" between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him", she wrote of Manafort, noting: "The Acting Attorney General had the authority under the applicable statutes and regulations to define the Special Counsel's charter broadly".