Schiff Wants To Know: Did The White House 'Launder' Info Through Nunes?

by Garry Watts March 31, 2017, 1:45
Schiff Wants To Know: Did The White House 'Launder' Info Through Nunes?

Citing unnamed United States officials, the Times identified the White House official as "Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council". Soon thereafter, Nunes spoke with Trump, bolstering the president's assertion that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had ordered spy agencies to listen in on the Trump campaign.

(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.

The report alleges that Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials, shortly after President Trump tweeted about being surveilled.

Cohen-Watnick is among about a dozen White House officials who would have access to the types of classified information Nunes says he viewed, according to current and former USA officials. But Democrats cast doubts on the timing, and questioned White House's intentions in making the information available to a broader set of lawmakers. In the letter, White House Counsel Don McGhan wrote the material related to whether "information collected on USA persons was mishandled and leaked".

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, Schiff said he was "more than willing" to accept the White House offer to view new information.

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A spokesperson for Nunes declined to comment on the Times report.

Spicer said the information was uncovered by the National Security Council, but would not specify whether it was the same intelligence that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes received at the White House last week.

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.

"There's a belief that the President has maintained that there was surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election that was improper and that we want people to look into this and to take the legal, responsible steps to both understand it and then address it", Spicer said. 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.

Nunes delivered the letter to the top Democrat on the investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, but Schiff refused to sign the invite, saying he wanted to hold the public hearing they agreed on, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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