White House invites lawmakers to see intelligence material

Posted March 31, 2017

The House Intelligence Committee investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections ground to a halt this week, as the Republican chairman cancelled all hearings and meetings, while Democratic members demanded he recuse himself from the probe. Intel committee Democrats have since accused Nunes of colluding with the White House over the findings and cowing to pressure from Trump to cancel public hearings into the investigation.

Nunes, rather than focusing on the impact Russian Federation had on the 2016 election, and rather than focusing on preventing further foreign intervention, made a decision to go on a witch-hunt against USA intelligence agencies for what he claimed was wrongful "unmasking" of individuals associated with the Trump campaign, transition team, or administration, including probably President Donald Trump.

The Times reported Thursday that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, according to several current United States officials, was one of two sources who provided Nunes with the intelligence.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis were the White House officials who sourced Nunes. Namely, he still wants to know how Nunes obtained the information that suggested Trump's transition team had been placed under surveillance. Schiff also said he's asked the White House if the materials he's been invited to view are the same as the intelligence viewed by Nunes last week.

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For instance, intelligence agencies may have tapped into a phone call between two Russian diplomats and recorded them talking about Trump or one of his staffers.

We can perhaps expect Nunes to quibble with the definition of a "White House staffer" or what constitutes "any of [Trump's] aides". He declined to say what specific information the White House had uncovered, and couldn't say whether Trump himself had been briefed on the materials.

The report did not make clear exactly what the pair did to assist Nunes.

- Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 30, 2017Nunes has faced criticism since the revelation that he secretly went to the White House last week, meeting with a source who gave him the information.

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He added that his "smell test" remark was based on Nunes's words at the time.

Stephen Slick, a former CIA and NSC official, said it would be "highly unusual and likely unprecedented" for a member of Congress to travel to the White House to view intelligence reports "without prior authorization". Those individuals' names, according to Nunes, should have been masked as they were not subjects of investigation, but were incidentally swept up as intelligence agencies surveiled other individuals.

"We had staff-to-staff discussions with their congressional affairs people", Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said.

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