The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee visited the White House grounds to view highly sensitive information last week, on the night before he announced that he had received bombshell information about Obama administration surveillance of then-President-elect Donald Trump.
Devin Nunes, a California Republican, acknowledged to CNN that he visited a secure facility on White House grounds last Tuesday to view the sensitive information. He said he did not enter the White House itself but instead visited another building on the White House complex.
The next morning, Nunes made a surprise announcement that he obtained new evidence showing that the Obama administration had captured the communications of Trump advisers — and possibly Trump himself — while conducting surveillance of foreign nationals. (RELATED: House Intel Chair: Trump’s Personal Communications May Have Been Captured In Surveillance Sweep)
President Trump said later in the day that he felt “somewhat vindicated” by Nunes’ announcement. Earlier this month, he asserted on Twitter that the Obama administration conducted surveillance of Trump Tower prior to the inauguration.
The source of Nunes’ information became a major focal point last week.
Nunes refused to identify his source, but he suggested that it was a whistle-blower or someone within the intelligence community. He also dodged when asked if the source was in the White House. If so, Nunes’ claims would be far less explosive than they originally appeared.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer last week dismissed the idea that Nunes got the information from the White House.
In his announcement, Nunes said that the Obama administration collected “incidental” intelligence on Trump advisers. That meant that the surveillance was targeted at foreign nationals who made references to Trump advisers during phone or email communications.
And though Nunes said that the information appeared to have been captured legally, he expressed concern that Trump advisers had been improperly unmasked by the Obama intelligence community. He also said that the names of Trump advisers had been dispersed through the administration.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee blasted Nunes last week. They said he did not share the new information with the committee prior to publicly announcing it. They also took issue with his decision to brief the White House on the information before sharing it with the committee.
Nunes’ office issued a statement in response to CNN’s report.
“Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source,” a Nunes spokesman said.
“The Chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that [Trump Tower] had been wiretapped.”