Did Devin Nunes Just Reveal NSC Is Monitoring Agency Response to Congress?

Multiple outlets this morning are covering Devin Nunes’ admission that he was on “White House grounds” last Tuesday, leading up to his Wednesday announcement that Trump officials’ identities may (or may not have) been unmasked in intelligence reports unrelated to Russia.

One source told CNN that Nunes, a California Republican, was seen on the White House grounds the day before his announcement. In a phone interview, Nunes confirmed to CNN that he was on the White House grounds that day — but he said he was not in the White House itself. (Other buildings, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are on the same grounds.)

No one in the White House was aware that he was there, Nunes said.

The California Republican said he was there for additional meetings “to confirm what I already knew” but said he wouldn’t comment further so as to not “compromise sources and methods.”

He told CNN he wanted to “reiterate this has nothing to do with Russia.”

Nunes went to the building because he needed a secure area to view the information, he told CNN. A government official said Nunes was seen Tuesday night at the National Security Council offices of the Eisenhower building which, other than the White House Situation Room, is the main area on the complex to view classified information in a secure room.

Nunes explained to Eli Lake he couldn’t use HPSCI’s own SCIF, just two miles away, because it didn’t have networked access to the reports that he was being shown.

In an interview Monday, Nunes told me that he ended up meeting his source on the White House grounds because it was the most convenient secure location with a computer connected to the system that included the reports, which are only distributed within the executive branch. “We don’t have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress,” Nunes said. He added that his source was not a White House staffer and was an intelligence official.

Laura Rozen notes that Nunes’ former aide, Michael Ellis, now works as NSC Deputy Legal Adviser.

New special assistant to the president, NSC deputy legal adviser Michael Ellis served as Nunes’ aide, HPSCI gen. counsel til early March 3/

Whether or not Ellis is Nunes’ source, it seems clear that someone in the EEOB first told, then shared, intercepts with Nunes.

That raises questions about how said source obtained the intercepts. That’s true particularly given that by Nunes’ later admission that some of the names weren’t unmasked per se, but rather described in such a way that would make the US person (that is, the Trump associate) clear, so it’s not like the NSC could just search on all of Trump’s top aides to find out if their names had been unmasked.

Remember, too, that this takes place against the background of HPSCI’s requests to NSA, CIA, and FBI for details on all the US persons who had been unmasked between June 2016 and January 2017. NSA had provided a partial response (basically deferring an answer until they could do more research) before last week’s hearing and Nunes’ press conference. But it’s not clear whether FBI intended to reply — it would have several possible reasons for refusing to do so, both to protect an ongoing investigation but also because unmasking is not the question to ask FBI, database searches are (it’s not clear how many of HPSCI’s Republicans understand this, which is pathetic).

In any case, NSA and CIA (at least) are already in the process of responding to this request. But someone worked his or her own angles to respond to the same request for Nunes.

35 replies
  1. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Two visits to Eisenhower SCIF? Double-Uber?

    Stories conflict (maybe due to pure misinfo).

    Dailybeast story says Nunes with staffer in an uber on the EVE and left uber.

    Cnn story says seen on WH grounds that DAY.
    Says Nune says he was there for meetings (Plural).
    Says left car and got INTO an Uber.

    • PeasantParty says:

      In the middle of the night!  Yes, I’d say there are lots of questions not answered, and  gobs of bullshit flowing.

  2. SpaceLifeForm says:

    More thoughts.

    So, Nunes had to go to Eisenhower SCIF to review online reports.  Then Nunes goes to WH next day to inform Trump of ‘stuff’.  Is Bannon keeping Trump out of loop?

    Why can’t HPSCI see these reports at their own SCIF?  Why are they being kept out of loop?   Even with the Obama EO on IC sharing, still serms to be compartmented.

    How many Uber drivers in DC work for a TLA?  How many are congressional staff? How many are foreign agents?   No way you answer a call in an Uber ride.  Or a cab.

    From bloomberg story:

    Nunes says he copied ‘Identifying numbers’ from the online reports.  Legal?  And what is to prevent the reports from changing by the time rest of committee can see them?

    As to the following ‘two investigations’ below, could certainly be misdirection.

    There may very well be many other investigations going on.

    ‘If it turns out that intelligence about the Trump transition was included in dozens of reports that were sent to the White House, then the House Intelligence Committee really has two investigations. The first is of course a probe into how the Russian state meddled in the election and whether it did so with the aid of Trump’s associates or campaign. The second is about whether the Obama White House inappropriately spied on Trump and his advisers during the transition to power.”




  3. SpaceLifeForm says:

    I wonder if Nunes has heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

    “I did not sit in on that briefing,” Spicer said. “I’m not — it just doesn’t — so I don’t know why he would brief the speaker and then come down here to brief us on something that we would have briefed him on. It doesn’t really seem to make a ton of sense. So I’m not aware of it, but it doesn’t really pass the smell test.”




  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nunes’s claim that he had an obligation to inform el presidente of interim findings of his congressional committee seems farcical.  Indeed, like much of the modern GOP, he gets it exactly wrong.  Nunes acted directly at odds with his obligations to Congress and the American people.  He had a duty not to inform the president or his immediate aides.  Congressional calls for Nunes to step down from his chairmanship, indeed from Congress itself, are correct.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      And on the unrelated matter of Jared Kushner’s new job, it would allow him to stick his nose into any USG department, about any matter, at any time.  The “restructuring” and “data management” aspects of it are particularly worrying: it would make Jared, in effect, head of the USG’s global purchasing function.  The potential for graft and corruption, even by Beltway standards, would be staggering.

      • Anon says:

        I must unfortunately agree. This position, if in fact it is real and he tries to work at it, implies an effort to centralize executive power far more than even Cheney dreamed. If he is also serious about the whole “disruption” plan then this looks to be exactly as successful as Amazon’s efforts to “disrupt” main street.

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Proximity spin.  WTF?  You are either inside the SCIF securely or you are not.  There is no ‘proximity’ about it.   Especially if the reports had to be viewed online.  You have to be inside the SCIF *INSIDE* a secure room/vault with all EMF blocked.  If you were not inside the secure SCIF completely, then someone showed Nunes stuff outside of  the SCIF, completely violating procedure,

    (also implies paper copies made or insecure networking)

    There is no ‘PROXIMITY’ about it.  Either the reports were viewed inside or must be considered info insecurely revealed/leaked.

    Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), went to the White House because there was a facility there for reviewing classified information,  said Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, who has refused to divulge the identity of his source.
    “Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source,” Langer said.


  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    NSA or FISA docs?

    Lost link, but I am fairly certain that Nunes mentioned FISA in past week. Now they are NSA docs? (keeping your facts straight can be difficult when you fail to talk facts).


    ” Democrats on the committee say they have yet to see the documents in question, which Nunes says he is waiting to receive from the National Security Agency. ”

    [Ah, no. He supposedly has the report numbers, and the entire committee can go to the SCIF and review the reports. No need to wait. Maybe they should all go tonight and review before tomorrows hearing? (wink,wink)]

  7. greengiant says:

    Keep your powder dry.   There is or is going to be false information leaked,  all the better to blackmail investigators who reveal it.   I expect  “captured” subject matter experts.   “to have proximity to”  spokesperson speak for “to get into a” ?

  8. GKJames says:

    I suppose it confirms the long-held suspicion that, for Republicans in Congress, the separation of powers is relevant only when a Democrat is in the White House. It also explains why, with the dominant party babbling incessantly about, and assuming a monopoly on, liberty and fealty to the Constitution, the Executive’s power keeps growing.

  9. viget says:

    Could the NSC intercepts that Nunes examined in the EEOB SCIF be sort of the “Rosetta Stone” for finding out which Trump transition team officials the FBI has the goods on?  That is, does the intel the FBI has shared with HPSCI have “unique identifiers” for these individuals that would be the same ones used in the NSC  SCIF intercepts?  So if the NSC intercepts (from foreign national communications, not necessarily Russia) contain enough context to crack the ID’s then they could use those same ID’s to figure out which Trump associates  the FBI has dead to rights? Including, perhaps, Nunes himself?

    Would make sense why Nunes would go right back the WH the following day to talk with the administration, he probably needed the night to figure out this info.  And I’m sure it was a bombshell.  Nunes, in fact, might be the only one besides IC folks in counterespionage in the FBI who know who these individuals are, and he used his unique access to the NSC  and the HPSCI raw intercepts from the FBI to piece it together.


    Not sure how the IC “masks” the IDs of individuals that are sort of incidentally hoovered up by FISA requests or foreign individuals’ SIGINT, but it would make sense if they gave them unique IDs so that these individuals could be cross-ref’d among different conversations with different foreign nationals, much in the way the IC used codenames for operatives and assets, or a clinical trial uses an anonymized ID for study participants.

  10. PeasantParty says:

    This gets murkier each day.  Reminded me of the two breaches already noted on the White House lawn and fences.  The first one on March, 11th, and the next on the March 18th.  Plus some other crazy woman yelling she has to talk to Trump.


    Could these be connected?  A diversion?  If Nunes says that a person has to be close to the White House, or on the lawn to connect to servers, then why isn’t anyone questioning that?   Also, what about that group of Pakistani IT guys that worked at Capital Hill on their computers?    Why not use computer access at the Capital Building? Why is there no checks and balances on what is used on that server?


    Too many questions, and a boat load of stinking fish going on now.


  11. greengiant says:

    Trump tweetstorm,  “Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA”. Wonder what got that started.

  12. Desider says:

    @PeasantParty Yes, they caught Nunes scaling the White House fence, but Trump invited him in for milk and cookies and a bit of #MAGA magic. In return Nunes gratefully dumped all the classified FBI briefing info he wasn’t supposed to reveal. That’s how bros hang.
    I’m sure Comey will be happy to offer more briefings – maybe in the Eisenhower building to save time and Uber charges?

    • PeasantParty says:

      Seriously?  Seriously!  I never said Nunes scaled the fence.  I was commenting on the two previous, and wondering if they could be connected in some way to Nunes meeting people on the lawn.  How many other such meet ups have happened like that?


      • Desider says:

        Did he have toilet paper? Maybe it was all innocent – he just went to toilet paper the house like we used to do in jr. high. Such a big lawn, lots of toilet paper….

        Or maybe like Zappa encouraged, knocking down the pygmy ponies on the rich people’s lawns…

  13. wayoutwest says:

    If anyone has the clearance to view this information it’s Trump and because he was the target of the Obama smear campaign that used some of this classified information he also has a right to view it. I think this is only one part of this story with more to come that will expand its scope.

    We have already seen that the Clintonites are untrustworthy and will leak anything if there is a partisan political advantage to be gained so their bellyaching can be ignored. Right now this bombshell is safe and in a relatively secure system where it can stay until a special prosecutor can view it to make the case for abuse of power charges against Obama.

    All the Clintonites can do is run around like chickens with their heads cut off and try to shoot the messenger but they just look desperate verging on hysterical.

    • Reyn says:

      Oh come on dude — come on — you realize how desperate you sound?  There was no Obama smear campaign to start with – and certainly none compared to the years of attacks that Mr. Trump directed at President Obama in his leadup to the run last year.

      Your whole post is pathetic.  Do you really think most conservatives think like you do?  THIS IS OUR F****** COUNTRY.  Liberal or Conservative; Right or Left – THIS is what we have as a nation.  You really want to ignore the fact that it appears that we have a president who doesn’t respect the founding documents AND is in some sort of collusion with a hostile or semi-hostile foreign power?  Really?  You want to come up with excuses FOR THAT??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????  Seriously?


  14. harpie says:

    Bradd Jaffy‏Verified account @BraddJaffy  2h2 hours ago https://twitter.com/BraddJaffy/status/846576244141502464  

    Ex-CIA/DoD Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash thinks a WH staffer was a go-between for Nunes and his intelligence community source — via @11thHour

    Partial transcript:

    […] [0:58] So I can count at least three instances in which a WH staffer would have to facilitate Chairman Nunes’ access to classified intelligence on the WH grounds. […]
    No, here’s what I think probably happened. And [Nunes] said, he said that his source was not a White House staffer. I think what likely happened was that a person inside the Intelligence Community sent the documents to a White House staffer, who Chairman Nunes either has worked with in the past, or currently works with, and that staffer facilitated Chairman Nunes reviewing that material in the WH complex. So, his source technically was not a WH staffer. The WH staffer was providing the access. But, that tells me, importantly, that the WH staff was witting of this communication, in fact, facilitated it, even though the original source may have been someone else inside the community. 

    • harpie says:

      Laura Rozen‏ @lrozen  5h5 hours ago https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/846555161266933760

      the answer on whether former Nunes/Hpsci, now Trump NSC aide involved in Nunes’ disclosure seems to not be as simple as ‘no’

      [retweets Thomas Cleveland who links to Yahoo: “Russia Probe in Turmoil as Top Dem Calls for Nunes Recusal

      […] The Schiff statement [calling for Nunes to recuse himself] came as panel staffers speculated on the possible identity of Nunes’ White House source, focusing on Michael Ellis, a lawyer who worked for Nunes on the intelligence panel and who was recently hired to work on national security matters at the White House counsel’s office. A White House official and spokesman for Nunes declined to comment on whether Ellis was involved in providing information to Nunes, as did a spokesman for Schiff. White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that White House officials were not aware of Nunes’ secret trip to meet his source and referred all questions to Nunes’ office.[…]

  15. harpie says:

    Bradd Jaffy‏Verified account @BraddJaffy  3h3 hours ago https://twitter.com/BraddJaffy/status/846570769698181120  

    Interesting—Jeremy Bash implies Sally Yates had revelations for House Intel about when she told WH that Flynn lied. Nunes nixed the hearing.

    Partial transcript:

    Ex-CIA/DoD Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash: Schiff would have said [to Nunes]:
    “Tell them to bring it here. You are the Chairman, I am the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. We get briefed by the Executive Branch. We don’t go down there and find out what they know on bended knee. They come to us and they give us information. We are investigating.”
    That’s the way it should have been handled. And I think, Brian, the real story, the real issue here, is not so much about the midnight run by the Chairman onto the White House grounds. It’s really that they wanted to cancel the hearing this week. The Hearing this week was going to hear from Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney General. And I am told that she has some very interesting things to tell the committee, to tell the public about when she told the White House Counsel that Mike Flynn had in fact been lying to the Vice President. And she was only going to be able to speak those things in the context of a Congressional Hearing. And so the White House and the Chairman needed to shut her down. This was an elaborately choreographed gag order on Sally Yates. 

    • harpie says:

      “And I am told that she has some very interesting things to tell the committee, to tell the public about when she told the White House Counsel that Mike Flynn had in fact been lying to the Vice President. ”

      That would be the same WH Counsel whose office former-aide-to-Nunes, Michael Ellis, now works for.

    • harpie says:

      Anthony De Rosa  Retweeted Andrea Mitchell

      Flashback : Yates told White House that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail

      Links to: “Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say” Washington Post 2/13/17

      […] The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the ­Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the ­information. […]

  16. PeasantParty says:



    Why does the head Investigator have to sneak around, meet people in the dark on the lawn, and do creepy shit? Why not go into the WH, tell them I’m investigating, I need this, that, and the other things?

    Is this a remake of the Pink Panther movies writ large?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Indeed.  DC is as monitored as any Vegas hotel casino.  Not much happens without notice; even less can be done by a high-profile congressional committee chair without notice.

      Nunes’s faulty process is an invention designed to circumvent and obscure.  It has nothing to do with his obligations as a congresscritter or committee chair.  It violates them.

      Nunes is less John Cleese and more Donald Trump.  He is attempting to game the system, potentially criminally, certainly improperly and in violation of his obligations, and get away with it.  Trump made his bones doing it and now everyone else thinks he can too.  Bad for governance, bad for the people government is meant to serve.  Nunes should resign.

      • PeasantParty says:

        Agreed!  Let’s get someone with more integrity and is going to work for Americans.  I say we should call upon William K. Black!  LOL

  17. Dawgzy says:

    The stories and people interviewed that I see  speculate about what Nunes was up to. Fair enough, because Nunes hasn’t been forthcoming. But the speculation occurs within the parameters that Nunes has set. When he gets into that protected room with someone, he could be talking about anything, including other information that the committee has that is damaging to the WH, and which doesn’t have much to do with “Obama tapped me.” Devin might be looking at an obstruction inquiry in a sane universe.

  18. SpaceLifeForm says:

    More holes in Nunes story.  Indicates he did not enter SCIF.  Would imply he met a leaker, and that security procedures were not followed.


    To review classified files without breaking the law, Nunes would have needed to do so at a secure facility. Congressional officials said that the director of National Intelligence, the FBI and National Security Agency had all indicated that they got no late-night visit from Nunes, a trip that probably would have been entered in security logs.




  19. P J Evans says:

    Nunes’s claim that he had an obligation to inform el presidente of interim findings of his congressional committee seems farcical.

    Even better: he’s refusing to pass whatever information he has to the rest of the committee he allegedly runs.

  20. lefty665 says:

    Dunno guys, Nunes may be due a little more respect as one of the good guys.  Bill Binney sure seems to think so.  https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/28/the-surveillance-state-behind-russia-gate/

    I respect Nunes for having the courage to host a ceremony for a crew member of the USS Liberty who by repairing an antenna got them back on the air with an SOS that kept the Izzies from sinking the ship and killing all on board. The radioman kept the death toll down to 34 and the wounded to 171. That ain’t popular with the AIPAC crowd, but was a service to his crew members and to his country. The 50th anniversary of that Israeli attack on a US Navy ship is coming up in a couple of months. Perhaps Nunes will host a remembrance and we can all say “Thank you”.

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