The New York Times has revealed the two White House officials who helped provide House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes with information showing that the Obama administration incidentally collected intelligence on Donald Trump advisers.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the office of the White House counsel, are the two officials, according to The Times.
Nunes, a California Republican and member of the Trump transition team, has refused to disclose how he obtained information showing the Obama administration’s incidental surveillance of the Trump team.
Nunes announced the new details in a surprise press conference on Wednesday. During the briefing, Nunes suggested that his source was an intelligence community whistleblower.
During his press conference, Nunes said that the information appeared to have been collected legally, but he expressed concern that Trump advisers had been improperly unmasked.
The revelation that the White House was involved in providing the information to Nunes is likely to fuel criticism that he is working too closely with the Trump administration, even while he is overseeing an investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential campaign.A spokesman for Nunes declined to comment on the Times’ report.
“As he’s stated many times, Chairman Nunes will not confirm or deny speculation about his source’s identity, and he will not respond to speculation from anonymous sources,” Nunes spokesman Jack Langer told The Daily Caller.
Ellis recently served as general counsel on Nunes’ Intelligence Committee.
Cohen-Watnick was in the news earlier this month after it emerged that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster wanted him removed from his position on the National Security Council. But according to Politico, Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner successfully appealed to Trump to allow Cohen-Watnick to keep his job.
Daily Caller White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.