Two White House officials helped provide House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) with intelligence reports that purportedly showed President Donald Trump and his transition officials were incidentally caught up in surveillance of foreign nationals, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Nunes has stridently denied receiving any information from the White House. On Monday, he insisted that his source, who he met on the grounds of the White House one day before going public with these reports, was an intelligence official.
Multiple anonymous officials told the Times that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office who formerly worked for the House Intelligence Committee, helped provide Nunes with this information.
The California Republican has sworn to “never” reveal his sources, even when asked directly by CNN’s Manu Raju if Ellis was one of them.
The intelligence reports Nunes viewed primarily involved “ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how they were trying to develop contacts within Mr. Trump’s family and inner circle in advance of his inauguration,” according to the officials who spoke with the Times.
Nunes has previously said he was “alarmed” by the reports he viewed, though he conceded they all appeared to be legally collected through routine foreign surveillance.
The House’s investigation ground to a halt this week after the details surfaced of Nunes’ covert meeting with his source. All of the committee’s Democrats, including ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), have called for his recusal.
Nunes and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the only person who could force Nunes to recuse himself, have both rejected charges that the chairman is too close to the White House to conduct a credible investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.