WASHINGTON - The top Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, faulted the White House for waiting until Friday to share with him information it provided to his Republican counterpart last week.
Schiff visited the White House Friday and viewed documents that were “precisely the same” as those seen last week by the committee’s chairman, Congressman Devin Nunes.
“While I cannot discuss the content of the documents, if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full committees in the first place, as a part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities,” Schiff said.
Nunes sparked a controversy last week when he said he received information from an undisclosed source at the White House that conversations by President Donald Trump and his staff had been swept up as “incidental collection” by U.S. spy agencies targeting foreign agents. Nunes did not initially disclose that he viewed the information at the White House.
Nunes then spoke with reporters and the president about the material without informing any of the other 21 members on the House Intelligence Committee, angering Democrats, who questioned Nunes’ credibility. He later apologized to the committee for not first telling them about the information.
Interviewed Friday by a television station in his home district in California, Nunes said media reports this week were “mostly wrong” in saying that the information he saw came from two White House officials.
“We’re not going to get into sources and methods. I mean, if not, who’s going to ever come to our committee? But I can tell you that those reports are mostly wrong,” he said.
Trump, who earlier this month tweeted unsubstantiated allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign while he ran for office, has said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by Nunes’ statement about the surveillance.
No evidence of wiretapping
FBI Director James Comey has said there is no information to support Trump’s allegation that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. Trump has asked Congress to investigate.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday that Nunes did nothing wrong in coming to the White House, and he brushed off questioners who asked why Nunes briefed Trump about information he acquired from two White House officials in the first place.
“What occurred between Chairman Nunes in coming here was both routine and proper,” Spicer said, adding that Nunes was doing his job to investigate allegations of surveillance.
Nunes, as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is leading a congressional investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, including possible ties between Trump associates and Russia. He has been accused by some Democrats of being too close to Trump to lead the investigation.
Schiff went to the White House Friday at the Trump’s administration’s invitation. While at the White House, officials say, Schiff also met with Trump. Neither commented on the meeting.