WASHINGTON: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes went to the White House grounds to review intelligence reports and meet the secret source behind his claim that communications involving Trump associates were caught up in “incidental” surveillance, the Republican congressman said Monday, prompting the top Democrat on the committee to call on Nunes to recuse himself from the committee’s Russia probe.
Rep. Adam Schiff said Nunes’ connections to the White House have raised insurmountable public doubts about whether the committee could credibly investigate the president’s campaign associates.
“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman,” Schiff said in a statement Monday.
Nunes confirmed Monday that he met with the source at the White House complex, but he denied coordinating with the president’s aides.
After reviewing the information last week, Nunes called a news conference to announce that U.S. spy agencies may have inadvertently captured Trump and his associates in routine targeting of foreigners’ communications.
The Senate intelligence committee is also conducting an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. On Monday, it announced that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has agreed to be interviewed. The White House confirmed that Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, had volunteered to be interviewed about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials.
Kushner is the fourth Trump associate to offer to be interviewed by the congressional committees looking into the murky Russia ties. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Trump adviser Carter Page and Trump associate Roger Stone last week volunteered to speak as well.
“Mr. Kushner will certainly not be the last person the committee calls to give testimony, but we expect him to be able to provide answers to key questions that have arisen in our inquiry,” the chairman, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and the top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, said in a joint statement Monday in a sign of bipartisanship.
The House investigation, meanwhile, has been plagued with partisan divisions under Nunes’ leadership.
The chairman did not tell the top Democrat on the committee about the meeting at the White House complex. It is highly unusual for a committee chairman and ranking member not to coordinate meetings related to an investigation.
“I think the chairman has to make a decision whether to act as a surrogate of the White House — as he did during the campaign and the transition — or to lead an independent and credible investigation,” Schiff said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Nunes argued he had to review classified, executive branch documents from a secure facility at the White House because the reports had not been provided to Congress and could not be transported to the secure facilities used by the House intelligence committee.
Nunes would not name the source of the information, but described the source as an intelligence official, not a White House official.