As I laid out here, Trey Gowdy spent much of Monday’s Russia hearing talking about how, if someone reveals details of FISA collection, that person has violated sacred trust and also committed felonious leaking. House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes was present for some, if not all of Gowdy’s tirade.
Yet that didn’t stop Nunes from engaging in precisely the kind of felonious leaking that Gowdy claims violates that sacred trust. At a press conference today, Nunes gave the following statement:
At our open hearing on Monday, I encouraged anyone who has information about relevant topics—including surveillance on President-elect Trump or his transition team—to come forward and speak to the House Intelligence Committee. I also said that, while there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.
- I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.
- Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration—details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value—were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.
- I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.
- To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.
The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate this surveillance and its subsequent dissemination to determine:
- Who was aware of it
- Why it was not disclosed to Congress
- Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking
- Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates; and
- Whether any laws, regulations, or procedures were violated
I’ve asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15 letter, and to provide 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.
Nunes went on to say this was normal incidental collection, possibly including Trump’s communications. He said it was all obtained legally. He said the communications were collected in November, December, and January. He stated he was unsure whether these were wiretapped phone calls, or something else. He wondered why the identities of Trump people were unmasked (though his later statements suggested it may have been circulated in raw form) and said “it bothers me that that would have any foreign intelligence value whatsoever.”
Nunes said he saw dozens of reports and that the information he saw has nothing to do with Russia or the Russia investigation, or any discussions with Russians.
Nunes then said he was headed to the White House to tell Trump which, if there is any legal interest in any of these intercepts (as there might be if they pertained to Mike Flynn’s communications with Turkey, for example), then Nunes just committed obstruction of justice.
“It’s all classified information,” Nunes explained.
And Nunes so lacks any self-awareness, he seemed completely oblivious to the ways he had violated everything the Republicans were wailing about on Monday.
The presser ended with this exchange, which may totally upend the debate over Section 702 reauthorization this year:
Reporter 1: Do you think right now the NSA — or a member of the intelligence community — was spying on Trump during the transition period?
Nunes: Well, I guess it all depends on one’s definition of spying. Clearly it bothers me enough, I’m not comfortable with it.
Reporter 2: But you think he might have been spied on?
Nunes: I’m not going to get into legal definitions here, but clearly I have a concern.