White House tells Russian Federation probers: Come see intel yourselves

Intrigue surrounding the source has deepened amid reports that as many as three White House officials - including Ezra Cohen, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel's Office, and top National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg - were involved in showing the documents to Mr. Nunes.

The White House has invited Schiff to view classified documents about the surveillance during the election. He said publicly the following day these showed "incidental" surveillance of "the president-elect and his team".

So it's not James Comey in other words. According to one official familiar with the situation, Cohen-Watnick discovered the documents during the course of a separate intelligence review of unmasking procedures, a process by which names that are normally concealed in the course of surveillance are revealed to the intelligence community when they are believed to be critical to understanding the value of intelligence.

Nunes has also been faulted by his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with Trump before consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.

Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) via a spokeswoman, said the group has asked the White House to instruct the agencies that own the intelligence "to immediately provide them directly to the committee". The committee is leading the House investigation into Russia's influence on the 2016 election. Intelligence agencies routinely monitor the communications of foreign officials living in the US, though the identities of Americans swept up in that collection is to be protected. On March 20 the FBI's Comey said the Trump campaign is being investigated for any contacts it had with Russian officials. Still trying to steer the conversation away from the Russian Federation investigation, the White House has continued this week to make the case that the Obama Administration, and U.S. Intelligence, were wrongly spreading intelligence gathered before and after the 2016 elections about Donald Trump and his aides. He would not say whether it was the same material Nunes had already seen. The president had been widely criticized following his allegation on March 4 that Obama ordered electronic surveillance against Trump's campaign team - an assertion that has been repeatedly denied by senior US intelligence and law enforcement officials. He said, the White House isn't anxious that Flynn has damaging information on the president.

"The image I have in my head of the White House is of a runaway train", said Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff at both the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency on MSNBC.

This is the same woman who said we had to pass Obamacare so we could "see what's in it".

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

His behavior has been strongly criticized by Democrats, and the party's ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, has called on Nunes to step down from his chairman's post.

"If the object here was to give it to someone to give to the president, it makes it all the more bewildering why it wasn't just taken to the president", reported Schiff to press, speaking on how the intelligence was passed around.

  • Leroy Wright