Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes announced this week that while Donald Trump was the President-elect, members of his staff had been caught up in U.S. surveillance of foreign targets overseas.
He talked to reporters outside the White House about the claim, then discussed it with Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the HIC. Nunes was denounced by Schiff, who claimed that Nunes had “damaged any hope that the regular House Intelligence Committee could pursue a credible, bipartisan investigation into the Russia connections.”
Schiff also complained that Nunes first met with the president regarding his findings instead of the HIC, to which Brit Hume quipped that he “Doubts Schiff dislikes the handling, he dislikes the substance.”
It’s going to be hard for Nunes to interfere with any investigation into Russia, because the FBI doesn’t appear willing to bother getting involved when it comes to concerns with surveillance.
According to the Washington Examiner, Nunes said the FBI has not responded to a March 15 letter asking the agency to turn over documents it has related to surveillance reports which may have incidentally captured the identities of some U.S. citizens last fall.
“I’ll tell you, NSA is being cooperative,” Nunes said. “But, you know, so far, the FBI has not told us whether or not they’re going to respond to our March 15 letter which is now a couple of weeks old.”
In that letter, the committee asked the FBI, CIA and NSA for a complete list of persons’ names who had their identity improperly revealed as a part of any foreign surveillance in the last half of 2016. It also asks to understand how widely those identities may have been disseminated.
Nunes spoke to reporters just after briefing White House officials that he had acquired new intelligence reports showing some members of the Trump transition team were also incidentally collected during surveillance.
Whether the identities were “unmasked” in the reports is now a matter of debate between Chairman Nunes and his ranking counterpart on the Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
It’s worth noting that the surveillance in question had nothing to do with Russia.
What’s next? Will James Comey be the next to be drained from the swamp? Right now, it’s clear that he may be the most powerful man in Washington.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]