The White House confirmed on Wednesday it’s planning for a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, known as the “Gang of 8,” to receive a highly classified intelligence briefing on the FBI‘s investigation into Russian meddling, reversing plans to exclude Democrats altogether.
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ABC News first reported the plans to hold a separate briefing for Democrats, citing multiple administration and congressional sources.
Democrats fought successfully to be included after the White House said Wednesday it planned only to brief two top Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and make the bipartisan group wait until after the Memorial Day recess. Nevertheless, the White House first will go ahead with a planned Republican-only briefing.
The Justice Department announced it will host the first briefing at noon on Thursday with those two Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., followed two hours later by the bipartisan briefing.
The “Gang of 8” includes the Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate as well as the respective party leaders from the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Both briefings for will be conducted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, according to the Department of Justice. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who brokered the meetings, will participate by getting them started, but will not stay, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The briefings come as after the president demanded the Justice Department investigate unproven allegations that the FBI spied on his2016 campaign. Trump and his congressional allies, led by House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif., believe secret FBI documents will shed light on the allegations.
The FBI has, until now, resisted turning over the documents for fear of revealing confidential sources and methods.
Trump’s demand for an investigation followed news reports that the FBI used an informant to make contact with members of his campaign, only after the agency obtained information that members of the president’s team had suspicious contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, formally requested the Justice Department include the “Gang of 8” or reconsider holding the meeting altogether.