Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that the White House ought to clarify, following an explosive New York Times report, whether it used the chairman of that committee to “launder” sensitive national security information.
“This looks nothing like a whistleblower case,” Schiff said during a press conference. “And again, I think the White House needs to answer: Is this instead a case where they wished to effectively launder information through our committee to avoid the true source of the information? That question the White House really needs to answer.”
Schiff was referring to the two White House sources that the New York Times reported Thursday secretly provided Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) with classified information.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in an interview that aired Thursday that Nunes had told him his source for the information was a “whistle-blower type person.”
Nunes admitted Monday that he met with a secret source last week on White House grounds to review classified information related to the collection of information on President Donald Trump and his associates. (Trump made the unsubstantiated claim in early March that former President Barack Obama had ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped.)
On Wednesday of last week, Nunes told the press, and then briefed the President, about information he had seen that purportedly showed that information related to President Trump and his associates had been “incidentally” collected during the surveillance of foreign nationals.
“I certainly think we need to get to the bottom of whether this was some stratagem by the White House,” Schiff said later, referring to the Times report. “Obviously, that would be deeply concerning to us. And if it’s necessary for us to interview these two individuals, then we should do so, but I have to say I’m more than perplexed by how these materials have been put forward and the motivations behind it. And I do think that the White House has a lot of questions to answer.”
He was asked why he thought the White House extended a new invitation to Intelligence Committee leaders to see classified information within minutes of the New York Times report, two weeks after Nunes and Schiff made their request for such information.
“The timing certainly looks fortuitous,” Schiff said. “And probably more than fortuitous.”