House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) is concerned that the intelligence community may have abused its surveillance authority if it collected information about President Donald Trump’s staffers during the 2016 race.
The California Republican told reporters at a Wednesday press conference that he is worried about the “incidental collection of Americans that were possibly tied to the Trump campaign that could have been leaked” and “the unmasking of Americans’ names, potentially for political purposes.”
This worry stems from the Washington Post’s explosive report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s phone calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition, which ultimately led to Flynn’s resignation. The intelligence community said Flynn’s calls were recorded through “incidental collection,” an explanation Nunes has challenged.
“Several crimes have been committed here,” he told reporters about the details of Flynn’s phone calls being leaked to the press.
In a letter sent to intelligence officials last week, he and House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked for the names of all other U.S. citizens working on the presidential campaign who may have been similarly affected.
Schiff said he thought it was an “appropriate part of our oversight” to look into the matter, but that it shouldn’t distract from Trump’s allegation that former President Barack Obama tapped his phones. Nunes and Schiff both said Wednesday they have yet to obtain “any evidence” to support this claim.
“I do want to underscore that this is a separate matter from whether the President’s allegations have any truth,” Schiff said. “We’re talking about both these issues, but the two are not related.”
The wiretap allegation is being investigated as part of the committee’s broader probe of alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.