Representative Devin Nunes has confirmed that the Obama administration used intelligence information gathered on Donald Trump for political opposition.
In an interview Monday, Nunes admitted that intelligence reports were routinely sent to the Obama White House, which included details about the Trump transition, and meetings about Trump and senior advisers.
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In an interview Monday, Nunes told me that he ended up meeting his source on the White House grounds because it was the most convenient secure location with a computer connected to the system that included the reports, which are only distributed within the executive branch.
“We don’t have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress,” Nunes said. He added that his source was not a White House staffer and was an intelligence official
Most important, Nunes told me these reports were sent to the Obama White House among other executive branch agencies. Nunes until now had only said the reports he viewed were widely distributed inside the government.
“The reports included details about the Trump transition, meetings of Trump and senior advisers, they were distributed throughout the intelligence community and to the White House,” Nunes said. “In some cases, there was additional unmasking of Trump transition team officials.”
This is suggestive, though not yet proof, that White House officials privy to the Russia investigation wanted keep tabs on Trump and his advisers in the period after the election and before his inauguration.
It also fits together with other facts in this story as well. For example, on March 1, the New York Times reported that Obama White House officials sought to preserve intelligence in the final days and weeks of his presidency on Team Trump’s connections to Russia and Russia’s campaign to influence the election. Though Nunes says the reports he viewed had nothing to do with Russia.
If it turns out that intelligence about the Trump transition was included in dozens of reports that were sent to the White House, then the House Intelligence Committee really has two investigations.
The first is of course a probe into how the Russian state meddled in the election and whether it did so with the aid of Trump’s associates or campaign. The second is about whether the Obama White House inappropriately spied on Trump and his advisers during the transition to power.
This could spell a lot of trouble for the former president and the intelligence agencies that allowed it to happen.