— CNN (@CNN) March 24, 2017
On Friday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) held yet another press conference to discuss his bizarre public disclosure that swallowed the past few days. Nunes previously told reporters how he’d witnessed reports of (completely legal) “incidental surveillance” of Donald Trump and associates. In the above clip from Friday morning’s press conference (and there are more clips below), Nunes — for once — dropped a rather large piece of news.
Nunes says that former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort’s lawyer has volunteered his client’s testimony for the investigation into alleged Russian ties within the Trump campaign (and Kremlin interference with the U.S. election). Perhaps Manafort wishes to avoid an inevitable subpoena? Nunes didn’t specify whether this testimony would take place in an open session, but he said, “We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues” to also come forward.
Well, Manafort knows his butt is on the line right now with the U.S. Treasury digging into his offshore dealings and Sean Spicer trying to erase his history with the Trump campaign. Add in Manafort’s Ukraine money laundering accusations and news that he once worked with a Russian oligarch to influence U.S. politics and news coverage, and Manafort is in too deep. And since the White House has forsaken him, Manafort has nothing to lose by volunteering his testimony.
Finally, Nunes has revealed something substantial. The backlash over his very public Wednesday disclosure mounted after Nunes left Democrats in the dark while briefing House Speaker Paul Ryan and skipping over to the White House for an in-person Trump meeting. Nunes has since apologized to Dems and also somewhat backtracked on Thursday night to say that he wasn’t truly certain whether this surveillance had happened.
A few more moments of worth happened in this presser. Here, Nunes comes right out and states that there was “no wiretapping of Trump Tower. That didn’t happen.” Someone’s gonna be completely livid over this statement!
— CNN (@CNN) March 24, 2017
The below clip shows the press conference in its entirety. Near the beginning, Nunes reveals that he hasn’t received all of the evidence he needs from the NSA to investigate surveillance of Trump and friends: “It is possible that we’ll receive documents from the NSA … but I want to caution that we won’t receive everything we need today.” He’s also asked the NSA and FBI for a closed briefing on the matter, and he hopes the NSA will come through for him soon on the docs? We’ll see.
UPDATE: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also spoke to the press and accused Nunes of “choking off the public” from access to vital information regarding the Russia investigation. This refers to Nunes’ decision to close off a segment of the hearings to the public or cancel them altogether. “We strongly object to the cancellation of this hearing,.” Schiff stated. “We would still urge the majority to reconsider. The witnesses have made it clear to us they are still available and we would urge that that hearing be allowed to go forward.”