Political and media hysteria surrounded the probe since last week, when Mr. Nunes announced that he'd viewed intelligence reports at the White House grounds showing that Mr. Trump and his associates were swept up in us surveillance of foreign targets and that their identities had been "unmasked" - a possible violation of federal privacy laws.
The White House refused to say whether it gave Nunes access to highly classified materials. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly attempted to fire Cohen-Watnick when he was brought in but was blocked by Trump at Bannon and Kushner's behest. "In order to comment on that story would be to validate things that I'm not at liberty to do", Spicer said. It was unclear what Ellis did with the information after that. "Clearly very different from two men who work inside and for the White House". One U.S. official also emphasized that Cohen-Watnick did not directly brief Nunes and was unaware that Nunes would eventually be briefed on the documents.
The story began in a Capitol Hill hallway last week, where Nunes held a short-notice press conference and revealed that he had been given access to classified intelligence reports that, he said, "clearly show the president-elect and his team were at least monitored" by U.S. intelligence officials.
Asked at today's press briefing if an NSA official should be combing through classified information to search for material that might validate what Trump tweeted, Spicer shot back, "Your question assumes the reporting is correct".
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"So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy that the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their staff, the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence, so I became very anxious, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more", she said. "I know a lot of folks want to talk about the process and not the surveillance and the underlying issue". He argued that the "substance" of the congressman's revelation is more important.
In other words, this wasn't about Trump's odd conspiracy theory; it looks like White House officials snooping into snooping - during an ongoing FBI investigation. "If this report true, it reinforces why Chairman Nunes should be nowhere near this investigation", Swalwell told BuzzFeed News. "He came over, which happens daily". Who did they meet with?
He told reporters last week that he had seen troubling information about the improper distribution of Trump associates' intercepted communications, and he briefed the president on the material, all before informing Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee's top Democrat.