The New York Times is claiming that two White House officials are the sources of intelligence reports provided to Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which revealed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American intelligence agencies.
According to the Times, the news that White House officials allegedly facilitated the disclosure of the reports—which Nunes subsequently discussed with President Trump—is likely to draw increased criticism that Nunes is acting on behalf of the Trump administration while his committee is engaged in conducting a supposedly independent investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Nunes has also faced admonition from his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with President Trump prior to consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.
The congressman has not identified his sources, asserting that he needed to protect them so others would feel secure coming to the committee with sensitive information. Nunes revealed the existence of the intelligence reports on March 22, and publicly described his sources as whistle-blowers working to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.
The Times reported Thursday that “Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.”
Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official brought to the White House by Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials noted that this month, not long after Trump posted a tweet about being wiretapped by President Obama, Cohen-Watnick began examining highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.
Officials asserted that the reports consisted primarily of ambassadors and other foreign officials discussing how they were working to develop contacts within Trump’s family and inner circle prior to his inauguration.
The White House has not issued a statement regarding the identity of Nunes’ sources.
H/T: The New York Times
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