News & Politics

Priebus Reacts to Evelyn Farkus' MSNBC Comments on Trump Spying: 'That's Incredible...'

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the RNC winter meeting in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus reacted with stunned disbelief to a video clip of a former top Obama administration official admitting that her colleagues had spied on the Trump campaign before Donald Trump took office and then tried to hide the sources of that intelligence from the incoming administration.

Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt played the clip of Evelyn Farkas, former assistant deputy secretary of defense, saying on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier this month that if “the Trump folks” found out how they knew what they knew about “the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians … they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence.”

She told Mika Brzezinski that she “became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open.” Farkas added that she had talked to some of her former colleagues, and “knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.”

“That’s incredible,” Preibus said in reaction to the tape.

He told Hewitt that he had first heard about it last night, and had spoken with Sean Spicer about the stunning admission.

“We’re going to be meeting on it this morning,” he said. “It’s just an incredible statement. What it means and what she meant by that, and whether that has anything to do with the issues in regard to surveillance of Trump transition team members is something that we need to figure out this morning and throughout the day. But it certainly is an incredible comment, although I don’t want to add too much into it right now until I have an opportunity to sort of dig into it and figure out the scope of such a statement.”

Hewitt asked Preibus if the admission suggests that “incidental collection of American conversation in intelligence, perhaps even in Russian to Russian conversation,” was being pushed out by Team Obama for the purposes of cornering Trump’s people.

Preibus said that personally he found the admission to be “so cavalier and unbelievable” that he had to wonder whether she even knew “what the heck” she was talking about.

He added, “It’s sort of like one of these things it’s so much in your face that it makes you wonder what she means.”

Hewitt asked Preibus if he thought FBI Director Comey would be interested in that statement.

“Well, I hope that the intelligence committees and agencies are interested in all of these things,” he answered. “And the one thing I will tell you is that we want, we want this thing done thoroughly, and I will tell you that because we have got nothing to hide. I mean, there’s just nothing there. I’ve said it many times on television and elsewhere. There is no collusion.”

Preibus drove the point home, saying, “The issues in regard to contacts with Russia as outlined in the New York Times article about a month ago is total garbage, and we just, we would rather this move forward and be thorough and get on with it, because we’ve got nothing to hide. It’s ridiculous.”