Back in the U.S., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday he’s uncovered evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies swept up communications by Donald Trump’s transition team—and possibly from the president-elect himself—after the November election. California Republican Devin Nunes spoke to the press before rushing to the White House to personally brief President Trump on his alleged findings.
Rep. Devin Nunes: “I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”
Rep. Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, said the surveillance “unmasked” the names of Trump transition officials. He claimed that none of the surveillance was related to the FBI’s investigation into whether officials in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 election. President Trump seized on Rep. Nunes’s comments, saying he felt “somewhat” vindicated over his discredited claim that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower ahead of November’s election. Meanwhile, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee blasted Rep. Nunes for making ostensibly classified information public, while failing to brief other committee members on the alleged findings. This is California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “The committee has still not received the intercepts or other information that the chairman was referring to, and therefore it is really impossible for us to evaluate any of the merits of what the chairman has said. But I can say this: The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both.”
CNN reported Wednesday the FBI has information that indicates Donald Trump’s associates communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. CNN cited unnamed U.S. officials, one of whom claimed, “People connected to the campaign were in contact [with Russian officials] and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.”