House Intel Chairmen Devin Nunes caused a media storm earlier this week when he announced he was presented with evidence indicating extensive surveillance of Donald Trump’s transition team, and possibly Trump himself, which took place in the weeks following the 2016 election.
On Wednesday, only days after FBI Director Comey told members of Congress that there is an active investigation taking place regarding alleged Trump-Russia connections, Devin Nunes announced he had been presented with “alarming” evidence that indicates “inappropriate” surveillance operations on Trump’s team.
Nunes said he has, “confirmed on numerous occasions the intelligence community collected information about US citizens involved in he Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in the intelligence community.”
“I want to be clear,” Nunes continued. “None of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.”
‘I’m actually alarmed’ conversations were captured, Nunes says . “What I’ve read bothers me,” he told reporters outside the White House after informing the president of his findings. “And I think it should bother the president himself and his team because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.”
Nunes said he will be investigating who was aware of this surveillance, why it was not disclosed to congress, who requested and authorized the additional unmasking, and whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates and whether any laws, regulations or procedures were violated.
Devin Nunes also said the FBI and CIA will comply with his March 15th letter and provide a full account of these surveillance activities. Shortly after the press conference Nunes stated he would share what he knows directly with President Trump and his team.
After the revelations by Nunes, President Trump stated he feels “somewhat vindicated” by these facts, which gave credibility to his earlier claims that Obama “wiretapped” his communications.
Yesterday, Fox News reported that there was a possible “smoking gun” within the evidence that Nunes was given, according to intelligence sources.
Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.
The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.
The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.
The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.
Earlier today Nunes held an impromptu press conference announcing that he’ll call both FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Rogers before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee to discuss topics which “they couldn’t answer in a public setting.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 24, 2017
Full statement below:
BREAKING: House Intelligence Committee chair Nunes says Trump’s former campaign chairman has volunteered to be interviewed by the committee. pic.twitter.com/yb8OJnwETW
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) March 24, 2017
Although Nunes declined requests to reveal the sources who provided him with this additional surveillance evidence, he emphasized on an interview with Sean Hannity last night that he felt the materials were “concerning” and he “had a duty and obligation” to brief President Trump.
@DevinNunes on “incidental” surveillance revelations: I had a duty and obligation to tell the President.
“What I saw had nothing to do with Russia. This has nothing to do with the Russia investigation.”
“The lack of a leak investigation is quite concerning. We need to make sure that these leaks are being tracked down.”
I have information that indicates Americans’ names were unmasked during surveillance.
“Clearly when I see a problem, I’m going to point it out.”
“Names for sure if they’re picked up in any incidental collection of any kind, they should be minimized.”
FBI Director Comey was seen entering the White House hours ago, which has led to speculation of what he revealed to Nunes behind closed doors, as was requested by the House Intel Chairmen earlier today.
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) March 24, 2017
Nunes has said that the FBI is “not cooperating” with the investigation into the surveillance of Trump under the final days of the Obama administration, but the “NSA is being cooperative”, leading some to reason that the new evidence presented to Nunes came from sources within the National Security Agency.
Both the directors of the FBI and NSA are meeting with Nunes, presumably to discuss the startling evidence he has obtained. From the slew of reports that came to light this week it’s reasonable to deduce, based on comments by Nunes, that intelligence agencies monitored the communications of Trump’s team for purposes other than national security.
What could intelligence officials possibly want to monitor Donald Trump’s team for other than national security interests?
The only conclusion is they were ordered by a high ranking government official, possibly Barack Obama himself, to collect communications for the purpose of uncovering damaging information on Trump. This information would either be leaked to the press in attempts to delegitimize Trump, or in the very worst case scenario could be used for blackmail.
Regardless of the surveillance operation’s goals, it seems evidence will soon be made public that will prove mass surveillance and the “unmasking” of Trump’s officials, leading to possible criminal charges against those who participated in these acts, including Obama if he was found to be the one who organized these efforts.