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Top Republican: Trump's Personal Communications May Have Been Collected by US Intelligence

  • Ken Schwartz

FILE - Members of the New York Police Department's counterterrorism unit guard Trump Tower, in New York City, Nov. 14, 2016. President Trump has alleged that his offices in the building were wiretapped last year on order of President Barack Obama.

U.S. intelligence may have picked up President Donald Trump's personal communications with foreign leaders and others during legal routine surveillance of foreign officials, a key Republican lawmaker says.

Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday outside the White House that most of the intercepted material was from communication from Trump transition team members, collected between the November election and the January inauguration.

However, communications between Trump and foreign officials and those he was considering for administration jobs may have been part of the intercepted calls.

WATCH: Nunes on 'Incidental Collection'

Nunes said the information was then "widely disseminated" among the intelligence community and that the identities of the Trump team members were "inappropriately" uncovered in the intelligence reports.

When a reporter asked Nunes if anyone was spying on the president-elect, he said he has "no idea" and that "it depends on one's definition of spying."

Nunes said an undisclosed source gave him the material after Monday's intelligence committee hearing at which FBI director James Comey confirmed his agency's investigation of Russian meddling in last November’s presidential election.

WATCH: Nunes on Legality of Collection

Wiretap allegations

Trump has insisted that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his telephones at Trump Tower in New York.

Nunes said he went to the White House on Wednesday because he had a "duty" to tell the president that there are intelligence reports about the surveillance.

Trump later said the information from Nunes makes him feel "vindicated."

Nunes has repeatedly said that while there was never a physical tap of Trump Tower as Trump has alleged, he was concerned other forms of surveillance were used against Trump and his team.

WATCH: Trump on Feeling ‘Vindicated’

Nunes said this has nothing to do with the investigation into whether Trump officials colluded in alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election. However, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said Nunes has now cast "a profound cloud" over the probe into that question.

Schiff said he wants to know why Nunes would tell Trump about what he has learned before giving the rest of the committee any details.

He said Nunes cannot head an independent investigation and be a "White House surrogate" at the same time.

WATCH: Schiff Discusses Need for Independent Commission

Schiff said he has "grave doubts" about the way the investigation is being conducted, and he called for a truly independent commission to take over the probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The House Intelligence Committee has asked heads of U.S. intelligence agencies to assist with a "thorough investigation" to determine why the collections were not disclosed to Congress — which requested the collection — why it was authorized, and whether any laws were violated.

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