Devin Nunes, House Intelligence Chairman, recently stated that some of Donald Trump’s transition team, including himself, could very have very well been under surveillance after the November election.
The White House and Trump-leaning sources rapidly took the news as proof that the President’s claim that former president Obama wiretapped Trump Tower was true. Democrats obviously rejected everything about the statement made by Nunes. Top California Democrat, Adam Schiff, reacted with fiery anger over the statement:
“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both.”
Schiff also went after Nunes for briefing the White House on his information while they were in the middle of the 2016 election – Russia investigation. Schiff added to his statement saying:
“And unfortunately, I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.”
Nunes suggested during a news conference on Wednesday that the surveillance of Trump and his aids could have been through what is called “incidental collection.” The process is routine and legal according to Politico and is used when a U.S. person communicates with a foreign target who is under surveillance. While they try to keep the identities of U.S. citizens hidden, sometimes they can be “unmasked” under certain circumstances.
Nunes states that his “source” showed him evidence that members of the Trump administration had been unmasked. This would lead to proof that members of Trump’s team were indeed revealed to U.S. intelligence and could prove a “wiretap” type scenario. Politico reported past concerns of Nunes below:
“Nunes had previously raised questions about the unmasking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose communications with Russia’s ambassador were intercepted by the U.S. government and whose identity was leaked to the news media.”
According to Nunes, the information gathered seemed to have “little or no apparent intelligence value.” He believes that because of this, the government could have “accidentally unmasked” for political reasons:
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored. It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.”
Schiff did respond to Nunes’ claims saying that they didn’t hold up due to the ‘unmasking’ fact:
“In my conversation late this afternoon, the chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties. This does not indicate that there was any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. person’s name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information.”
While this may be true, it still doesn’t speak to the valuable intel that was produced from the surveillance. Without credible intel, it will look like they were just spying on the Trump team…at least that’s how Trump allies will see it. I do understand why Nunes didn’t go to Schiff, he didn’t want whatever information he had to go through the Democrats spin cycle. I also think he wanted to put some pressure on Comey to release the information that he had. There is so much to this. Did Comey lie under oath? Why hasn’t the FBI cooperated when all other agencies have? Why didn’t Nunes take Schiff to the White House with him?What do you think about this new intelligence? Let us know in the comments below!