House Intel Chairman Gives Trump New Collection Revelations, Sparking Committee Feud
WASHINGTON -- The bipartisan comity that has traditionally been a hallmark of congressional intelligence committees eroded in the House today after Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told media and President Trump that he or his advisors may have been incidentally collected in FISA surveillance activities, an "alarming" turn of events that Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said undermined the credibility of the committee's investigation into Russia campaign interference and Trump's claims of being wiretapped at the direction of President Obama.
It started with an early afternoon press conference called by Nunes -- appearing alone, while other press conferences as recently as last week featured Nunes and Schiff side by side.
Nunes told reporters that he "recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition." He added that the surveillance was not related to Russia, but another unspecified entity or entities.
Incidental collection occurs when a U.S. person enters the communications of a foreign subject being legally monitored under a FISA court order.
Nunes said he'd asked the directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA "to expeditiously comply" with a request for "a full account of these surveillance activities."
"I informed Speaker Ryan this morning of this new information, and I will be going to the White House this afternoon to share what I know with the president," he said.
Nunes then headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and was ready to speak to the press once again after meeting with Trump. On CNN after his appearance at the White House, the chairman said "it does appear" that Trump himself could have incidentally been picked up during FISA surveillance.
"So, until we actually get those reports and get an explanation from the appropriate agencies, we won't know the answer to that. But, clearly, there is a lot of information in the reports that I have seen, which were dozens, that would lead me to believe that the last administration and numerous agencies had a pretty good idea of what President-elect Trump was up to and what his transition team was up to and who they were meeting with," said Nunes, who served as an advisor on Trump's transition team. "And, you know, some of this is, I think, legitimate collection, but some of it, I think it bothered me enough that I went over to the White House, because I think the president needs to see these reports for himself."
Nunes reiterated he was "quite confident that President Obama did not order a wiretap on Trump Tower."
Trump, he added, "needs to see what's out there on him, and it's up to him to decide whether or not it was proper collection or not or if it met a threshold... these are intelligence reports that were widely disseminated. It's not fair for him not to know what's in these reports, while the past administration and many agencies do know."