House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed Wednesday that it’s possible that President Trump’s personal communications might have been picked up by the intelligence community through “incidental collection.”
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, the California Republican said that he learned of “significant developments” that he’s now “alarmed” by since his panel heard testimony Monday from FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers.
“First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated intelligence community reporting,” Nunes said.
“I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked,” he said. “Fourth and finally, I want to be clear: None of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”
He said the collection occurred post-election and during the transition period in November, December and January.
Nunes said he wasn’t sure where the collection occurred when he was asked if it had taken place at Trump Tower. He said that his panel will thoroughly investigate the surveillance to determine who was aware of it, why it was not disclosed to Congress, who requested it and authorized the additional unmasking.
“I believe it was all done legally. I think it was all obtained legally. The question is why was it unmasked?” Nunes said.
Asked if the president was part of the incidental collection, Nunes initially said, “Yes,” but then later clarified, “I know there was incidental collection regarding the president-elect and his team.”
Nunes said he will brief the president Wednesday afternoon at the White House on the developments and he already briefed Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. Nunes already spoke to the NSA director, CIA director and is waiting to speak to FBI Director James Comey, who said Monday that neither the bureau nor the Justice Department has evidence to support the president’s claim that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Just last week, Nunes said, “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”