Nunes: Intelligence Community ‘incidentally collected’ info on Trump transition officials
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Wednesday that members of the Trump transition team were under surveillance after the election. Nunes said the collection appears to have been incidental. He read a four-point statement to reporters and then promised an investigation would follow.
“So, first, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition,” Nunes said. He added, “Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”
“Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked,” Nunes said. “And fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team,” he added.
“The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate surveillance and its subsequent dissemination to determine a few things that I want to read off,” Nunes said. He continued, “Who was aware of it? Why it was not disclosed to Congress? Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking? Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates? And whether any laws, regulations or procedures were violated.”
Nunes said he would be heading to the White House later today to inform them of his findings. Eric Geller of Politico put out a series of tweets based on the Q&A which followed Nunes’ statement:
President Trump has been claiming for weeks that Trump Tower was “wiretapped” by President Obama. He and his spokespeople later backed away from this somewhat suggesting he didn’t necessarily mean his phone calls were being listened to by anyone, only that surveillance was taking place. Now we have this story suggesting there was some surveillance during the transition. The first impulse may be to connect the two, i.e. this is what Trump was talking about all along.
However, Rep. Nunes emphasized that this appears to have been incidental surveillance and also described it as “legally done” according to Eric Geller. Also, Nunes said the White House was not aware of this which is why he was heading there to brief them. If the White House didn’t know about this then obviously it couldn’t have been what Trump was talking about two weeks ago.
With something like this, it seems a big part of it will come down to the intent of the people who were gathering the information. We’ll have to wait to learn more to see if there was any malicious intent directed at the incoming Trump team. Here’s the video of Rep. Nunes statement: