White House invites lawmakers to see intelligence material

Mar 31, 2017, 01:40
White House invites lawmakers to see intelligence material

A report from the New York Times alleges that a pair of White House officials played a role in providing the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

According to the Times, Nunes met with Michael Ellis, a former staffer on Nunes' House Intelligence Committee who now works in the White House counsel's office on national security issues, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director of intelligence at the National Security Council. "That question the White House really needs to answer".

Cohen-Watnick was an underling of Michael Flynn, the ousted national security adviser whom McMaster replaced. After appealing to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, the Post reported, Cohen-Watnick was reinstated.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, confirmed during a news conference later Thursday that he was invited to the White House to view intelligence documents, but in a public reply to the White House he expressed "profound concern" with the way the materials were being made available to the committee.

"There's a belief that the President has maintained that there was surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election that was improper and that we want people to look into this and to take the legal, responsible steps to both understand it and then address it", Spicer said.

Spicer noted the material is related to the March 15 letter in which materials were requested about the intelligence committees' investigation into whether information collected on United States citizens was mishandled and leaked to the press.

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After speaking with reporters, Nunes went to the White House to brief the president about the intercepts, which he said were of little or no foreign intelligence value and were not related to Russian Federation, but which had allegedly inappropriately "unmasked" some on the Trump team.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for what the time the letter was sent.

"I've read the report, and respectfully, your question assumes the reporting is correct", he said.

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Cohen-Watnick is among about a dozen White House officials who would have access to the types of classified information Nunes says he viewed, according to current and former USA officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview with CBS' "This Morning" that aired Thursday, said Nunes told him a "whistleblower-type person" provided the information.

Cohen-Watnick was almost fired earlier in the month at the request of National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, but was overruled by US President Donald Trump after he appealed to White House advisers Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump's Jewish son-in-law.

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