House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has risked undermining the credibility of the panel's investigation of Russian interference of the 2016 election by sharing new information with the White House, his Democratic counterpart said Wednesday.
By briefing the public and then President Trump about intercepted communications involving members of the transition team, but not other members of the committee involved in the investigation, Nunes cast "quite a profound cloud over our ability to do our work," Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) told reporters.
"The chairman will either need to decide if he's leading an investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both," Schiff said at a Capitol Hill news conference.
President Trump said he felt "somewhat" vindicated by revelations from the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that U.S. intelligence agencies may have picked up communications involving members of his transition team late last year.
While the intelligence reports do not back up Trump's unsubstantiated claim that former President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, they apparently show that Trump and his associates may have been named in classified reports circulated in the weeks before Trump took office, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told reporters Wednesday.
Nunes visited Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to tell him about dozens of intelligence reports from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency he had seen. He said he reports included information about communications by Trump and those working for him in the transition.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said in a statement he had "grave concerns" about revelations made Wednesday by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare).
Nunes told reporters that U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring foreign targets hd incidentally heard communications involving members of the Trump transition team and that reports about those communications were disseminated around the government.
Nunes is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Schiff is the panel's ranking Democrat.
President Donald Trump’s second nominee for Labor secretary, law school dean R. Alexander Acosta, frustrated Democrats at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday by dodging questions about how he would handle some key workplace rules enacted by the Obama administration.
But Acosta, a former Justice Department official, had strong support from Republicans during the hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and he appeared on track for confirmation.
That was a sharp contrast to Trump’s first pick for the job, Southern California fast-food executive Andy Puzder, who withdrew last month after some GOP senators balked at voting for him amid a series of controversies. On Tuesday, Puzder said he is stepping down as chief executive of CKE Restaurants.
President Obama denied that he or his staff had authorized any such surveillance. (March 6, 2017)
U.S. intelligence agencies picked up communications involving members of the Trump transition team late last year and reports of the conversations were circulated within the government, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday.
"I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told reporters.
The eavesdropping appears to have been legal and inadvertently picked up Trump associates because they were communicating with individuals under government surveillance, Nunes suggested.
Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Wall Street Journal, is friends with Trump.
That did not prevent the editorial board from delivering a powerful blow to Trump, assailing him on Wednesday for holding on to his claims that Obama wiretapped his phones.
“He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence," wrote the editorial board. "Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims."
And some Trump allies are feeling the sting.
"It does hurt," Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas said on CNN when asked about the editorial. "It hurts a lot not only for my party but for people to have a sobering look at what others are saying."
Even as an FBI investigation is well underway into possible collusion between Trump aides and Russians during the campaign, many conservatives have dismissed it as a witch hunt by Democrats.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is one of them.
“Given that the Democrat party has no history of disliking the Soviet Union, the Democrat party has no history of opposing the Soviet Union or Russia, we are being asked now to believe that the Russians wished to influence a U.S. presidential election," Limbaugh argued.
He added, wryly, “This master stroke of statecraft by Putin was designed, however, to bring to power a man, Donald J. Trump, who has pledged to rebuild the United States militarily and economically.”
Conservatives are enamored with Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch because he has declared himself a staunch originalist, much like the man he would replace on the court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Gorsuch to articulate how far he would go in pursuing a philosophy that rejects the idea that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that evolves with society.
Feinstein demanded to know whether Gorsuch’s view of originalism leaves room for gay rights, women’s rights or the right to abortion. She told of having to sentence women to prison for abortion when she was a member of the California Women’s Parole Board, of suicides of women who could not get abortions when they were illegal and of cases of women passing around a donation plate so friends could travel to Tijuana for the procedure.
The Trump administration will publicly assess its strategy against Islamic State for the first time Wednesday in a State Department summit with the 68 nations in the U.S.-led coalition against the militant group.
The meeting, hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, comes days after visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi won assurances from President Trump about more U.S. support in the war against Islamic State that has been raging for nearly three years.
In his opening remarks, Tillerson said the coalition had managed to reclaim large parts of Iraq and Syria from the militants even as intense fighting continues in some areas.