If you’re getting confused by all the information surrounding Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) in his role as the Chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, you’re not alone. As quickly as media sources report new information, the White House says something else, not necessarily to clarify, but more in the manner of rebuttal and obfuscation.
This time, though, White House spokesman Sean Spicer may have inadvertently revealed the truth behind today’s The New York Times article that, despite Nunes’ assertions to the contrary, it was two White House officials who provided the congressman with the intelligence reports that, according to Nunes, show that President Trump and his transition team had communications swept up “incidentally” in a court-approved FISA investigation of foreign officials.
The New York Times article reveals those White House officials to be Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director of intelligence of the National Security Council and Michael Ellis, an attorney at the White House Counsel’s Office on matters of national security.
Nunes had characterized those who gave him the intelligence reports as whistle-blowers who had placed themselves in possible jeopardy by revealing the information to the congressman.
Spicer’s press briefing, shown above, took place on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, two days before The New York Times published its article.
By Nunes’ account, he received a phone call from one of the sources on the night of March 21, 2017, after which Nunes hurried to meet the informant and chose to do so on the White House grounds, because, as Nunes explained, the meeting required a secure place where people with the appropriate security clearances could view the confidential information. Others note that there are several such places in Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building and the Intelligence Committee office where Nunes could have met with the sources.
On the following day, Nunes held an impromptu news conference to announce that he had information that post-election, President Trump and some of his associates’ communications with foreign officials may have been inadvertently swept up during intelligence-gathering efforts of those foreign officials. Nunes has said that such surveillance was part of a court-ordered FISA investigation and that it did not appear to approach illegality, but that he was concerned that the identities of President Trump and some other people had been revealed in the intelligence reports. After the news conference, Nunes visited the president in the White House to brief him on the intelligence reports.
Nunes has yet to reveal those intelligence reports to any other members of the Intelligence Committee and the White House has refused to reveal who authorized Nunes’ entry into the White House.
The continuing appearance of secrecy on the part of the Intelligence Committee chairman and perhaps even deception, have resulted in a call for Nunes’ recusal as chairman of the House committee by a number of Democrats who question his impartiality into the investigation of possible ties between President Trump and Russia.
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