WASHINGTON — Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, met on White House grounds with the source of information that communications of President Donald Trump’s transition team may have been picked up incidentally in foreign surveillance, Nunes’ spokesman said Monday.
The White House complex was close “to a secure location where he could view the information,” said Nunes’ spokesman Jack Langer, who described the intelligence as “executive branch documents” and would not identify the source.
Nunes (R-Calif.) told Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake the source was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer.
Nunes also told CNN he wasn’t “sneaking around ... ” Nunes said he visited the grounds the day before his news conference last Wednesday during which he disclosed what he had learned. Nunes told the cable network that people in “the West Wing had no idea I was there.”
However, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, called Monday for Nunes to “recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition.”
Nunes told reporters last Wednesday that communications of Trump’s associates may have been captured in monitoring of foreign officials by U.S. spy agencies. Later that day, Nunes went to the White House to brief Trump.
Nunes was concerned about the “possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens,” Langer said.
Asked why Nunes and his source couldn’t meet at a secure committee location, Langer said, “Because of classification rules, the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence Committee space.”
Nunes has said the surveillance is not related to probes into Russian meddling in the election and does not back up Trump’s unproven claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him.
Nunes, a former Trump transition team member, did not share his findings with committee Democrats in advance of his meeting with Trump.