House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Thursday that his decision to go to the press and to the White House with fresh intelligence reports before going to his own committee, which is investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S. election, was “just a judgment call.”
“There was a lot going on yesterday and it was a judgment call on my part and that’s—at the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one but you got to stick by the decisions you make,” Nunes said.
The California lawmaker made waves Wednesday when he claimed in a press briefing that the U.S. intelligence community “incidentally collected” information about President Donald Trump and members of his transition staff. He said that information, which he said was gathered legally, was not collected as part of the FBI’s investigation into whether there was any “cooperation” between Russian officials and Trump campaign staffers.
Nunes briefed Trump himself at the White House after speaking to reporters.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, accused Nunes of acting like “a surrogate of the White House” and torpedoing the credibility of their investigation. Other lawmakers, including Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said Nunes’ behavior made an urgent case for establishing an independent commission to investigate Russia’s involvement in the presidential race.
Asked Thursday about “suspicion this was engineered by the Trump administration to muddy the waters,” Nunes said: “The President didn’t invite me over.”
“I called down there and invited myself because I thought he needed to understand what I saw and that he needed to try to get that information because he has every right to see it,” he continued.
Nunes declined to answer reporters’ questions about where he obtained the information or whether any of the information he disclosed was classified.