NBC's 'MTP Daily' host Chuck Todd hosts a panel discussion on President Trump's 'Spygate' allegations that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign.
RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think the dispute over whether a confidential human informant can be characterized as a spy is a little bit of a distraction.
CHUCK TODD, NBC: You know that's not the story. What he is saying is "infiltrate." He is trying to paint this as something that it's not.
PONNURU: I agree with that. There is no evidence that there was an attempt to undermine the trump campaign through the abuse of law enforcement and counter-intelligence. That, I think is right. But too much of this debate has gotten hung up on the terminology question of spy versus something else.
CHUCK TODD: This gets at the question of, what should we stop covering?
The minute he went on this, we had a meeting and said we know this is a B.S. story that's going to go away in five days.
Yet, it will still leak out there and in the meantime, he is trying to distract from the crazy Erik Prince story. Or this -- you know, we knew this was what it was.
SHANE HARRIS, WASHINGTON POST: We wrestled with it at The Washington Post before "breaking this story," before it became "Spygate."
What we were recognizing, I think is that the story was not that there was a spy or mole inside the campaign. There was a story however how the White House was working with the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, a member of the gaining of eight to try to release information or extract it from the justice department to make people think there was a mole inside the campaign. That was astonishing. Something we've never seen before. That's the oversight process breaking down. I think for journalists it's incumbent upon us not to pay attention to the distraction but pay attention to what's actually going on underneath that.
TODD: That is, to me this trap that we are in on those things.
HARRIS: He knows it keeps us busy. There is only so many of us who can cover the story. This is day in and day out. The distractions are his strategy.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC NEWS: We are confused by the day to day developments.
PRZYBYLA: The American people are very confused. That is why it allows him to must it up and confuse things further.
CHUCK TODD: I sit here and I do -- I do myself -- if Michael Avenatti comes on I ignore, Stormy Daniels comes on. It's -- I know other people does don't. And that's a problem, and it's making it easier for the president the do what he has done.
Keeping it in perspective at this moment. It is an important thing for the citizenry and the analysts.