White House officials leaked intelligence docs to Nunes, report claims

Last week, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes, announced dozens of intelligence reports that inappropriately included details on President Donald Trump's transition.

With the House Intelligence investigation in shambles, the Senate Intelligence Committee has begun its investigation into Russian election tampering exposed by multiple USA intelligence agencies.

The Trump administration has declined to comment on a report that two White House officials reportedly provided the leader of a congressional investigation with intelligence that showed members of the Trump presidential transition team were caught up in incidental foreign surveillance by USA spy agencies.

Nunes' committee is also investigating Russia's involvement in the election, and the chairman did not brief his fellow members on the intelligence reports before holding the press conference and meeting with the president.

The White House's invitation letter to lawmakers came amid a quickly rising storm over Rep. Devin Nunes, who heads the House intelligence committee. The Times reporting, argued Blake, contradicts what both Nunes and the White House have said to the press over the past week.

"This is information that was brought to me that I thought the president needed to know about incidental collection", Nunes said. But he acknowledged: "I did use the White House to help to confirm what I already knew from other sources".

The Times reported that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the NSC, and Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer who previously worked on the House intelligence committee, played a role in helping Nunes view the materials.

More news: Senate Russia hearing could offer clues to investigation

However, according to The Times report, officials with knowledge of the documents report that much of what Nunes saw was actually reports about third parties in foreign countries - ambassadors and other officials - talking about Trump and how to gain access to or influence with his inner circle.

"If you look at Obama's deputy assistant secretary of defense that is out there, Evelyn Farkas, she made it clear that it was their goal to spread this information around, that they went around and did this, and she said, 'That's why there are so many leaks, '" Spicer said.

Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has come under fire in recent weeks for communications with the White House that critics have deemed inappropriate.

The official added that Cohen-Watnick was not responsible for clearing Nunes onto the White House grounds. He didn't say he'd never answer the question, but the suggestion was there. He has a Nunes connection through his former position as general counsel to the House Intelligence Committee.

The situation prompted the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is running its own investigation, to state Wednesday that their work had nothing to do with the House inquiry. Why would they go on to ask that the names be unmasked? "I'm not going to get into it".

"It certainly was a part of our discussion, but beyond what we agreed to do, or hope to achieve to do by the end of the day, I really don't want to get into specifics", Schiff said.

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