Dem, GOP leaders to get classified briefings on Russia probe


WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate lawmakers from both parties are set to meet with top intelligence officials today for classified briefings as President Donald Trump raises new suspicions about the federal investigation into his 2016 campaign.

Trump is calling his newest attempt at discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation "spygate." In recent days, he has been zeroing in on – and at times embellishing – reports that a longtime U.S. government informant approached members of his campaign during the 2016 presidential election in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election.

Trump intensified his attacks today, tweeting it was "Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history."

Trump's broadsides set the stage for the unusual decision by the White House to arrange a briefing about classified documents that will be attended by three Republican House members, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Ryan downplayed Trump's attacks saying he doesn't worry about any lasting damage to the agencies. "We have strong institutions in this country. They're going to endure any kind of test," Ryan told reporters.

After Democratic complaints and negotiations that went into the evening Wednesday, the Justice Department said it would hold a second classified briefing the same day and invite the Gang of Eight – a group that consists of the top Republicans and Democrats in each chamber and the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

There were two other late additions to the list – White House chief of staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had originally said no one from the White House would attend the briefing, at which the investigation into Trump's campaign will be discussed.

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