Trump and Nunes are distracting from the 'big story' that counts

Cheryl Sanders
June 4, 2017

The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas - four are seeking information from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Unmasking is the term for revealing the names of USA citizens in intelligence reports who were swept up as part of surveillance of foreign officials.

After a series of missteps that included a secret visit to the White House to view classified documents, House Democrats had been calling on the Tulare Republican to recuse himself from the investigation.

Congressional sources said the subpoenas requested the intelligence agencies to provide details of any requests made by two top Obama administration officials and the former CIA director to "unmask" the names of Trump campaign advisers inadvertently captured in top-secret foreign communications intercepts.

"Nunes is not going to be able to go any further", the Democratic aide said, adding that, if he did, committee Democrats would pressure House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove Nunes as chairman.

The House Intel Committee issued four subpoenas related to its Russian Federation investigation this week, and three others to the FBI, CIA and NSA that were related to "unmasking", the exposure of Trump campaign officials mentioned in classified intelligence reports, based on intercepts of conversations.

Trump, a Republican, has denied any collusion between Russian Federation and his campaign and has repeatedly questioned the U.S. intelligence finding that Putin led an operation that included computer hacking, fake news and propaganda meant to swing the election in his favor.

Pelosi agreed, citing the "special status" of the Intelligence Committee among the other panels in the chamber. Asked whether he recalled any instances of USA ambassadors requesting that names be unmasked, Brennan said, "I don't know".

Democrats on the panel - who had been calling for Nunes' recusal - have broadly praised Conaway's leadership of the probe. The intent is clearly to disrupt proceedings on the Trump-Russia investigation, feed alt-right conspiracy theories regarding the 'deep state, ' and in general keep the House Intelligence Committee ineffective and at a standstill.

The panel this week also subpoenaed the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, demanding information on why the names of Trump campaign and transition staffers who communicated with Russian officials appeared un-redacted, or "unmasked", in intelligence reports that were later leaked to the press.

Schiff said on CNN Thursday of Nunes' new subpoenas: "I have to conclude this is part of the White House effort to direct attention in another direction" as the Russian Federation probe intensifies.

But the other three target Obama administration officials about "unmasking" or how investigators found out which members of Trump's team communicated with Russian officials.

In addition, lawmakers expect former FBI Director James Comey to appear before them sometime in the coming weeks to give testimony in a public congressional hearing.

"There is no substance to this, so the only way to look at it is as an attempt to distract the headlines and the public from Comey's public testimony and Mueller's investigation, both of which are serious", said one of the USA officials familiar with the information Nunes subpoenaed.

However, Cohen said Tuesday that he would gladly testify if subpoenaed because he has "nothing to hide". But the parameters of the probe explicitly include the leak of classified information, which is at the heart of Nunes's interest in possible unmasking by the Obama administration.

Other reports by iNewsToday