A damning new report from The New Yorker suggests that the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes didn’t uncover a surveillance scandal in March, but he did do a bang-up job in spawning his own scandal.
According to The New Yorker, the claims and commotion swirling around Nunes at the time were part of a manufactured attempt by The White House to justify President Donald Trump’s infamous “wires tapped” tweet rant. The subject of “unmasking” made its way into the news cycle, even with figures from both sides of the aisle holding the position that President Obama’s administration did not do anything illegal or appearing illegal. The intelligence sources close to the subject shared that this was the outcome in their findings.
I spoke to two intelligence sources, one who read the entire binder of intercepts and one who was briefed on their contents. “There’s absolutely nothing there,” one source said. The Trump names remain masked in the documents, and [Susan] Rice would not have been able to know in all cases that she was asking the N.S.A. to unmask the names of Trump officials.
Nunes is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee because, in talking about the documents, he may have leaked classified information. But this is like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. The bigger scandal is the coördinated effort to use the American intelligence services to manufacture an excuse for Trump’s original tweet.
The quest to find something of merit to weld onto Trump’s Twitter bluster was a coordinated and dedicated effort from the sounds of things.
The intelligence source told me that he knows, “from talking to people in the intelligence community,” that “the White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ They put out an all-points bulletin”—a call to sift through intelligence reports—“and said, ‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.’ And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.”
The White House has not yet commented on the New Yorker‘s report. We imagine a tweet or two from Trump himself might be creep up in the near future.
(Via The New Yorker)