WASHINGTON — Nine days after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced the incidental collection of names related to Trump’s campaign, the top Democrat on the panel made his own trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to view what the administration says were the documents in question.
On March 22, Nunes held a press conference announcing that he “recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition” in legal surveillance not related to Russia. He then rushed over to the White House to share the information with President Trump, speaking again to reporters outside.
Nunes did that before informing other members of the committee, angering fellow lawmakers and prompting a closed-door apology from the chairman last week. He told reporters he regretted his “judgment call.”
Then it emerged that Nunes had been at the White House the day before the revelation; the chairman told CNN on Monday evening that he “had been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go, because I knew what I was looking for and I could actually get access to what I needed to see” at the White House instead of utilizing the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities that exist for House members and senators on Capitol Hill. The New York Times reported Thursday that two White House officials provided Nunes with the documents, a report Nunes called Friday “mostly wrong.”
After the week’s committee meetings were canceled by the chairman, Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) met with Nunes on Thursday to discuss getting the panel’s investigation into Russia’s campaign season influence operation back on track.
And on Friday, Schiff headed to the White House with his staff director to view documents “represented to me” as “precisely the same materials that were provided to the chairman over a week ago,” he said in a statement. “While I cannot discuss the content of the documents, if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full committees in the first place as part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities.”
“Nothing I could see today warranted a departure from the normal review procedures, and these materials should now be provided to the full membership of both committees,” Schiff added. “The White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee, only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Friday that Nunes’ White House visit “was both routine and proper.”
Both Nunes and Schiff “possess the appropriate credentials and clearances,” Spicer added.
Nunes flew back to his Central California district and told local media outlets that the information he saw “may be legal, but I’m not sure that it’s right.”