House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is walking back his statement that law enforcement officials may have “incidentally collected” communications involving President Donald Trump’s transition team.
According to a spokesperson cited by ABC News on Thursday, Nunes did not know “for sure” whether Trump or his staff were even on the phone calls or other means of communication he cited — the crux of Trump’s debunked claims that his communications were wiretapped by the Obama administration. Nunes himself was a member of the transition team’s executive committee.
“He said he’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Nunes’ spokesperson said, according to ABC News.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Nunes claimed that he had received “dozens of reports” of US intelligence officials “incidentally” collecting information on members involved in the Trump transition, while conducting “normal foreign surveillance.”
According to Nunes, the information that was collected legally under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “clearly show” that Trump and his team were “monitored.”
“Details about US persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting,” Nunes said.
After hearing such reports, Trump said that he “somewhat” felt vindicated on his claims that he was being wiretapped by his predecessor.
“I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday.
However, after briefing Trump on his findings, Nunes did say at a press conference that he still had doubts on Trump’s unsubstantiated claim.
“No, no, no, no,” said Nunes. “That did not happen. I’ve said this for many, many weeks, including the day after, a couple days after, in front of the press. That never happened.”
“We won’t know that until we get to the bottom of did people ask for the unmasking of additional names in President Trump’s transition team.”
Meanwhile, Nunes’s actions continue to draw the ire of lawmakers from both parties. By bypassing his vice-chairman, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, and going straight to the Oval Office to report his initial findings to Trump, he had lawmakers on the Hill questioning his capability as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
“This is a bizarre situation,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona told Greta Van Susteren in an interview on MSNBC. “I’m calling for a select committee because I think this back-and-forth shows that Congress no longer has the credibility to handle this alone. And I don’t say that lightly.”
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