White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports

White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports
White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports

31 March, 2017

Two White House officials helped House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) acquire information that he says shows President Trump's transition team was incidentally surveilled, according to The New York Times.

Speaking after Spicer's press conference concluded, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking intelligence House Democrat, said the executive mansion's handling of intelligence is cause for "profound concern".

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Times identified the White House official as "Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council".

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing, Thursday, March 30, 2017, at the White House in Washington. But it invited a bipartisan group from the panel to view information it says relates to surveillance of President Donald Trump's associates.

Stephen Slick, a former CIA and NSC official, said it would be "highly unusual and likely unprecedented" for a member of Congress to travel to the White House to view intelligence reports "without prior authorization".

Cohen-Watnick was almost fired earlier in the month at the request of National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, but was overruled by US President Donald Trump after he appealed to White House advisers Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump's Jewish son-in-law.

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He said he wants to know why the materials appeared to be directed through Nunes if they originated at the White House.

Nunes first announced last Friday that he was inviting Comey back to the House on Tuesday to answer questions in a closed briefing.

This struck reporters as odd - that Nunes would go to be briefed at the office building that houses most of the White House staff, and then return to the White House to brief the president on the material he had seen at the White House complex.

The attempt to derail the probe followed last week's hearing in which FBI Director James Comey gave damaging testimony for President Donald Trump, stating the agency has been investigating possible collusion between his election campaign and Russian Federation since last July, and there was no evidence to support Trump's tweets about being wiretapped, according to The New Yorker. "I have asked the White House for their assistance in answering those questions". One day after his White House rendezvous, Nunes revealed in a press conference that he had new information showing incidental surveillance of Trump's team during the transition.

A Senate intelligence committee source said members view Nunes' claims as a "sideshow" and feel no urgency to run to the White House to view the documents.

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