About a week ago, Devin Nunes inserted a puzzling brand of mayhem into the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Trump-Russian ties. He claimed to have viewed intelligence reports that revealed (legal) “incidental” surveillance of Trump and some associates during the transition period. Nunes then dashed to the White House and briefed Trump. All of this left open the mystery of who Nunes’ sources are (which was complicated by his suspicious-looking “Inspector Clouseau” investigating style), but a New York Times report now sheds some light upon who Nunes’ helpers may be.
All along, there’s been plenty of suspicion that Nunes — who worked on Trump’s transition team — may be attempting to torpedo the House’s Russian ties probe. Although Democrats (and some Republicans) have called for Nunes’ recusal, he’s refused to step down, but perhaps not for long. The NY Times says Nunes that two White House officials (who aren’t household names) “played a role” in handing the reports over to Nunes:
A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.
Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.
Whoops. No wonder Nunes refused to reveal his sources? Even Speaker Paul Ryan appeared to be stumped on their identities while only referring to them as “whistle blower-types.” Now that actual names are in the mix, the criticism shall continue regarding Nunes’ apparent eagerness to keep Trump fully informed while his Democratic House Intel colleagues sat in the dark.
Earlier this week, Nunes scrapped all committee meetings for the week and then accused Democrats of not being serious about investigating Russia. None of Nunes’ actions have made sense during this messed-up intrigue, and in light of this new information, calls for an independent prosecutor to take over the Russia probe will likely soon accelerate as many believe it appears almost certain that he colluded with the White House here.
UPDATE: Nunes’ Democratic House Intel counterpart, Adam Schiff, has (unsurprisingly) declared “profound concern” over the nature of his colleague’s sources.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 30, 2017
(Via New York Times)