House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Tuesday night that as of yet, he has seen no evidence of collusion between the Russians and President Trump or between the Russians and his campaign.
Gowdy appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee earlier in the day. Bannon was also subpoenaed on Tuesday to appear before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury.
“So did Bannon admit being a Russian agent?” Carlson asked. “What’d we learn?”
“We learned about a new privilege that before today did not exist,” Gowdy answered, referring to the White House’s position that any communications Bannon had while he was in the Trump administration or part of the Trump transition were off limits.
“When you make very provocative claims like ‘treason’ and ‘unpatriotic,’ and there’s a ‘zero percent chance’ that these Russian lawyers weren’t walked up to see then-candidate Trump — then you’re going to be asked about it and you’re going to be asked a lot about it and that’s what we tried to do today,” the former prosecutor explained.
Tucker asked whether anyone on Capitol Hill truly believes that Trump “colluded with the Russian government in order to subvert our democracy.”
Gowdy said he couldn’t speak for the Democrats since Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) claimed he had evidence of collusion before their investigation even started.
“I have seen no evidence of collusion between the Russians and President Trump, between the Russians and the Trump campaign,” Gowdy declared. “But it was Steve Bannon who used the word ‘treasonous’ and it was Steve Bannon who used the word ‘unpatriotic’.”
He added, “Those are two pretty serious accusations to level — particularly at the president’s son.”
Gowdy noted that it was in the Democrats’ best interest to drag the investigation out. “There’s a built-in advantage for the Democrats dragging this out as long as they possibly can,” he explained. “They want this to drag through to the 2018 elections — they want to retake the House. It is our responsibility to conduct as thorough an investigation as we can, but also do it in the most expedited way that we can.”
Tucker asked Gowdy if he thought the Republicans would be able to drive an investigation if they were out of power — like the Democrats are now.
“No, I can tell you first hand we would not be able to do that because when President Obama was in office, we had an impossible time getting access to documents and witnesses when I was leading another investigation,” he answered. “But the biggest headwind of all wasn’t President Obama, it was the media. The mainstream media could give a damn less about what happened in Benghazi. They’re really, really interested in what happened in Russia, in part because they don’t know anybody that voted for Donald Trump.”
Gowdy argued that the biggest difference he could see between how investigations were handled during the Obama years and now is the behavior of the media.