At a press conference today, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes gave the following statement:
At our open hearing on Monday, I encouraged anyone who has information about relevant topics—including surveillance on President-elect Trump or his transition team—to come forward and speak to the House Intelligence Committee. I also said that, while there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.
- 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.
- I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.
- To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.
The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate this surveillance and its subsequent dissemination to determine:
- Who was aware of it
- Why it was not disclosed to Congress
- Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking
- Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates; and
- Whether any laws, regulations, or procedures were violated
I’ve asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15 letter, and to provide a full account of these surveillance activities. I informed Speaker Ryan this morning of this new information, and I will be going to the White House this afternoon to share what I know with the President.
Nunes went on to say this was normal incidental collection, possibly including Trump’s communications. He said it was all obtained legally. He said the communications were collected in November, December, and January. He stated he was unsure whether these were wiretapped phone calls, or something else. He wondered why the identities of Trump people were unmasked (though his later statements suggested it may have been circulated in raw form) and said “it bothers me that that would have any foreign intelligence value whatsoever.”
Nunes said he saw dozens of reports and that the information he saw has nothing to do with Russia or the Russia investigation, or any discussions with Russians.
HOWEVER… before sharing all this to the press, he went over to the White House and shared it with Trump, whose team is the focus of the study. (In fact, Nunes himself was on the Trump transition team).
“It’s all classified information,” Nunes explained.
He added: “”What I’ve read bothers me, and it should bother the President himself and his team, because some of it seems inappropriate.”
And Nunes so lacks any self-awareness, he seemed completely oblivious to the ways he had violated everything the Republicans were wailing about on Monday – the leak of classified information.
What’s worse… Nunes didn’t share this information with anyone else on his committee. Just the Speaker Ryan and the President. So much for checks and balances, huh? So much for impartiality.
Legal, incidental collection of US officials’ communications is routine. It is odd for an Intel Chair to visit WH to emphasize that it occurred. Guess he was trying to help out.
Ex-House Intel counsel: Nunes briefing Trump is a “breakdown in the entire oversight process,” other committee members likely “horrified” pic.twitter.com/aRn8dB3Ia6
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
So wrong. The FBI and the intelligence community will be skittish sharing information now with the House Intel committee. Nunes clearly knows this. Maybe that was his goal, too.
UPDATE: And now they are campaigning off of it….
UPDATE #2: Nunes on Jake Tapper right now: “From the reports I have seen, it does appear that Trump could have been picked up.” Also says other people associated with transition team were picked up.
He believes that Trump should have been informed “It’s only fair.”
The FISA warrant, he says, was legal, but was not directed toward Russia.
Nunes is breathtaking on Tapper’s show. Just amazing.
— Karoli (@Karoli) March 22, 2017