Rep. Nunes Intel Came From White House, Raising 'Profound Questions'

Cheryl Sanders
April 1, 2017

The White House danced around a report in the New York Times that two White House officials provided information to Nunes, meant to bolster President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by former President Obama.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday he has "profound concern" about how documents showing that President Donald Trump and his associates were incidentally included in foreign surveillance conducted by intelligence agencies ended up in the hands of the committee's chairman.

Asked about the New York Times report at his daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would only say that classified material would be reviewed by the relevant committee members. He raised concerns about why, if the White House did give Mr Nunes the information, it shared the reports with the congressman rather than going directly to the White House.

Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) via a spokeswoman, said the group has asked the White House to instruct the agencies that own the intelligence "to immediately provide them directly to the committee".

Schiff said he has accepted the invitation from the White House Counsel, but said the invitation "raises more questions than it answers".

The White House has invited Schiff to view classified documents about the surveillance during the election.

It's not yet clear if the documents offered by the White House are the same ones that prompted Nunes to make his announcement last week.

Cohen-Watnick was a protege of Flynn, having worked for him at the Pentagon's intelligence shop. These included Nunes' White House rendezvous the night before he revealed the "incidental collection" findings, as well as the congressman's cancellation of an open hearing scheduled for Tuesday, which was set to feature former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates (The Washington Post reported Tuesday the White House had attempted to block Yates from speaking, an assertion the White House later denied). He then returned the next day in a visit he said was arranged so that he could brief Trump on what Nunes depicted as potential abuses by USA spy agencies brought to his attention by an unnamed source.

He appeared to be referring to cases of "incidental" collection on US people, which generally occur when foreign officials being monitored by USA spy agencies either mention an American or communicate with one. The agent, a former and future covert operative whose name is being withheld by The Washington Post at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency, was on a standard two-year rotation to the White House.

Trump's White House has looked for other ways seize the reins.

The California Democrat called it "bewildering" that the information wasn't simply taken directly to the president. Farkas said, "I was urging my former colleagues and. the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration". Schiff previously said the Republican chairman did not share the reports about possible Trump transition surveillance with him before announcing what he found.

Spicer, referring to the Obama administration, said the Farkas comment constituted an admission "on the record that this was their goal, to leak stuff".

The House panel's work has been deeply, and perhaps irreparably, undermined by Nunes' apparent coordination with the White House. Noting that she left government in October 2015, she said, "I was just watching like anybody else, like a regular spectator" as initial reports of Russian Federation contacts began to surface after the election.

Other reports by iNewsToday