Report: Two White House Officials Gave Devin Nunes “Incidental” Surveillance Info

One of the officials was identified as a former aide to Michael Flynn.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Two White House officials assisted in providing Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, with the information he used to claim that members of Donald Trump’s transition team were “incidentally” swept up in foreign intelligence collection efforts, the New York Times reports. The paper identified the officials as National Security Council intelligence director Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a former aide to Michael Flynn, and Michael Ellis, who worked for Nunes before taking a job in the White House counsel’s office.

The effort to provide Nunes with the incidental collection info led to a bizarre and dramatic series of events last week. After viewing the intelligence reports on the White House grounds, Nunes, whose committee is probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, staged a dramatic press conference the next morning and then rushed to the White House to brief the president.

The bombshell report comes as Nunes has refused to disclose the source of the intelligence reports, even to members of his own committee, and mounting calls for him to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, or even step down as the committee’s chair. The controversy has brought the Russia investigation in the House to a halt.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly batted away questions regarding the Times report Thursday, claiming he was “not at liberty” to discuss it.

“I never said I would provide you answers,” he said at one point. “I said I would look into it.”

Earlier this month, the president ignited a firestorm of controversy when he accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of wiretapping him. Trump—under fire for his baseless allegation—claimed that he felt “somewhat” vindicated by the information that Nunes provided him with (even though it in no way backed up his wiretapping claim).

Republican lawmakers, including Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, have called on Nunes to provide additional information about his White House meeting or risk losing the “ability to lead” the ongoing probe.

This is a breaking news post. We will update when more information becomes available.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate