White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Thursday that it would invite the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to review information discovered “in the ordinary course of business” related to a request two weeks ago.
The announcement came minutes after the New York Times reported that two White House officials provided House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) with material that purportedly showed that information related to President Donald Trump and his associates was incidentally collected by U.S. intelligence officials.
Nunes had previously said that evidence for that claim – which he has still not shared with committee members, despite briefing the White House on it last Wednesday – did not come from a White House source.
“A letter was transmitted just recently to the ranking member and chairman of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that said in the ordinary course of business, national security staff discovered documents that we believe are in response to your March 15th, 2017 letter to the intelligence community seeking ‘documents necessary to determine whether information collected on U.S. persons was mishandled and leaked,’” Spicer announced.
“We have and will invite the Senate and House ranking members and chairmen up to the White House to view that material in accordance with their schedule,” he said.
NBC News’ Kasie Hunt posted what appeared to be the text from which Spicer read his announcement on Twitter Thursday. It was written by White House Counsel Don McGahn:
Letter from WH says NSC discovered docs “in normal course of business” related to unmasking. NOT CLEAR if it’s what Nunes saw last week pic.twitter.com/VkIEGgvUWs
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) March 30, 2017
Spicer was referring to a letter from Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) on March 15. That same day, Nunes announced that FBI Director James Comey would appear in an open hearing of his committee on March 20. He also said he had not seen evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped during the election, as Trump had claimed.
During his daily press briefing Thursday, Spicer refused to clarify what he meant when he said the documents were discovered “in the ordinary course of business,” nor who discovered them.
He also refused to say whether the documents that were to be shared with intelligence committee leaders were the same documents that Nunes had announced.
Spicer also said “he was not aware of anything directly” related to whether Trump directed anyone in the White House or his national security team to, in one reporter’s words, “find information or intelligence to back up his claim about wiretapping.”
This post has been updated.