Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the classified intelligence reports that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) surfaced in a March press conference show no evidence that the Obama administration improperly surveilled the Trump transition team, CNN reported Wednesday.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who reviewed the same documents as Nunes told CNN that they have found nothing unusual in the reports. This follows a week of attacks on Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, over allegations that she requested the “unmasking” of Trump transition officials swept up in surveillance of foreign nationals and then leaked that information.
Nunes’ office did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Trump last week called Rice’s involvement in unmasking his staffers’ names in those reports “one of the big stories of our time,” telling The New York Times that he believed she broke the law.
One anonymous congressional intelligence source who spoke to CNN described Rice’s requests as “normal and appropriate” for an official tasked with overseeing foreign governments, while another source told CNN there was “absolutely” nothing alarming in the intelligence reports.
Rice told MSNBC that she was carrying out routine duties in making the requests, and did so to understand the “context” or “importance of the report.”
“The notion that some people are trying to suggest, is that by asking for the identity of a person is leaking it, is unequivocally false,” she said. “There is no connection between unmasking and leaking.”
National security experts who have worked on foreign surveillance cases have backed up Rice’s explanation.
Nunes last week abruptly stepped aside, temporarily, from his committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election over complaints that he disclosed classified information when he first brought these intelligence reports to public attention. The House Committee on Ethics is investigating the allegations, first brought by progressive watchdog groups, which Nunes dismissed as “entirely false and politically motivated.”