House Intel Chair: Trump, Aides Swept Up In Legal US Surveillance

Partisan chasm builds at center of House Russia investigation

But perhaps the most shocking bit of news our local reps made was the revelation that Nunes had never heard of two of Trump's longtime advisors, both of whom have been caught up in the Russian-meddling brouhaha: Carter Page and Roger Stone. Nunes said he found these bits but they have nothing to do with Russian Federation, and he feels the president needs to know.

Nunes contended that there was "unmasking" of Trump officials during the transition-meaning the naming of American citizens in intelligence reports (as opposed to denoting "American A" or some other designation) which concerned him. The "normal, formal surveillance" provided "significant information" about Trump and his team during the transition period.

"The reason that we do this and that we have all these procedures in place is to protect American citizens" Nunes said, adding that there is a "certain threshold met to make it into intelligence products". They will also probably question who "unmasked" the names of Trump advisers, when the default is to avoid revealing the identities of USA citizens communicating with monitored foreign nationals.

One thing that is very clear, however, is that nothing Nunes said vindicates Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

Nunes said that he does not know if the information was collected at Trump Tower.

Nunes hurried to the White House to personally brief Trump on the revelations, after talking to the press but without sharing the information with Democrats. There hasn't been any evidence of wiretapping, but the White House argues Trump was referring to overall surveillance of his campaign, not specifically wiretapping.

Spicer responded in the negative - clarifying that it was Nunes not President Trump who requested the meeting - before blasting a double standard in the media.

"I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked", he said.

He added that "it's possible" that Trump's personal communications were captured that way by the USA intelligence community. "Does the White House not presume that foreign nationals are being monitored by U.S. intelligence when talking to USA officials?" For all we know, this was just Trump staffers setting up congratulations calls with foreign leaders. He stated that US intelligence agencies may have picked up communications involving President Trump as part of court-approved surveillance of foreign intelligence targets in the period between Trump's election and his inauguration. Why would you do either of those things before getting input from the intelligence community that could help contextualize the information?

That is not a speedy process, and it has to be done correctly - that is to say, unlike how Republicans operate, the evidence must dictate direction.

Nunes initially said "yes" when asked if Trump was among those swept up in the intelligence monitoring, but then said it was only "possible" that the president's communications were picked up. That charge was denied by FBI Director James Comey when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

He offered a crisp one-word answer when asked whether Trump's own communications were picked up: "Yes", he said.

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