The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is rejecting claims that Trump and his aides had contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
During a press conference on Monday, Rep. Nunes told reporters, “There is no evidence that I’ve been presented [by the intelligence community] of regular contact with anybody in the Trump campaign.” He added, “The way it sounds like to me is, it’s been looked into and there’s no evidence of anything there.”
Nunes also told reporters that his committee has finished determining the scope of the investigation, and it will now go on to receive evidence.
“As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I don’t have that,” he reiterated. “What I’ve been told, by many folks, is that there’s nothing there — but we’re absolutely looking into it,” said Nunes.
The Hills reports that Nunes dismissed requests from Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from FBI investigations into Trump-Russia ties.
“At this point, what are we going to appoint a special prosecutor to do, exactly, chase stories of American citizens that end up in newspaper articles?” he said, adding that if there was any evidence of serious crime, the committee would “consider” the need for an independent prosecutor.
Nunes also clarified that the only “serious crime” of which the committee had any evidence involves media leaks, allegedly stemming from the intelligence community.
The contents of the transcript of the wiretapped phone call between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyac were made public through leaks to The Washington Post earlier this month. The report revealed that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia in the Dec. 29 call, despite his insistence to the contrary, reports The Hill.
Regarding the leaked transcript, Nunes said he was “very interested” in investigating who made the decision to leak the contents of the phone call to the media. He said, “What laws did they use to decide to unmask Flynn’s name?”
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Nunes also eluded to the mechanism used by the government to legally surveil Flynn, a U.S. citizen, which has been heavily scrutinized since the transcripts were leaked.
According to the report, he refers to the calls as “FISA-warranted communications,” of which Nunes suspects Flynn’s side of the conversation was captured inadvertently.
“The good thing is, about FISA and the way it works, there should be a record of who in the government knew about Gen. Flynn talking to the Russian ambassador; and, from there, we should be able to know who’s in the realm of the possibles of who we would need to talk to,” Nunes said.
The White House also reportedly enlisted Nunes to push back against the ongoing “fake news” narrative of Trump’s supposed connection to Russia and expose the “real story” of the media leaks.
“If anything, it was the opposite,” he said. “All it was was a White House communications person passing a number and a name of a reporter over to me … if I would talk to them following up what I had already told all of you in the days before that.”
H/T: The Hill
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