White House Aides Helped Nunes Get Intelligence Reports

Citing unnamed USA officials, the Times 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.

Ellis is a lawyer in the White House Counsel's Office-his current titles include: special assistant to the President, senior associate counsel to the President, and deputy National Security Council legal advisor.

One week ago Spicer told reporters he didn't know why Nunes would brief the White House on something that they had previously briefed him on.

When asked by ABC News' Cecilia Vega whether the materials validate President Donald Trump's claim that he and his associates were wiretapped under order from former President Barack Obama, Spicer said he didn't know.

Last week, Devin Nunes quietly made a trip to the White House, when he claims he received secret information related to Donald Trump's conspiracy theory about being the target of surveillance.

The Press Secretary never attacked the report, but he did say that a White House that calls everything it disagrees with fake news would not comment on the NYT story.

The White House has invited Schiff to view classified documents about the surveillance during the election.

It's not yet clear if the documents offered by the White House are the same ones that prompted Nunes to make his announcement last week.

After news broke that Nunes had first viewed the intercepts on the White House property, he became mired in a controversy that has yet to subside. "I do think that the White House has a lot of questions to answer".

Nunes has said that the reports he had seen do not specifically back-up Trump's claim.

Democrats are calling for Nunes to rescue himself from the investigation and are accusing him of possibly working with the White House.

Nunes' committee is also investigating Russia's involvement in the election, and the chairman did not brief his fellow members on the intelligence reports before holding the press conference and meeting with the president. Officials say Cohen-Watnick has been reviewing the reports from his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the National Security Council is based. Despite repeatedly being asked about the veracity of the reports, and the names cited, Spicer said the White House would not be commenting "on one-off anonymous sources that publications" publish.

But even amid the drama of the documents and Nunes' sources, Schiff promised the committee would get to the heart of Russian interference in the presidential election.

Since disclosing the existence of the intelligence reports, Nunes has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe coming to the committee with sensitive information.

"I can not get into who those individuals were", Spicer said at the daily news briefing.

Stephen Slick, a former CIA and NSC official, said it would be "highly unusual and likely unprecedented" for a member of Congress to travel to the White House to view intelligence reports "without prior authorization".

Nunes and Schiff met Thursday after a week's worth of canceled hearings and bickering between the committee leaders, as their investigation turned partisan following a decision by Nunes, a Republican, to go to the press and White House with intelligence before alerting the committee.

A spokesman for Ryan later said the speaker was not aware of Nunes' source and continues to have "full confidence" in the congressman's ability to run the Russian Federation investigation.

  • Larry Hoffman