Five days ago, U.S. Congressman Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he`d seen classified information that led him to conclude that
members of the president`s own transition team were swept up in incidental
surveillance of foreigners.
After discovering that information, Nunes said, he was so alarmed that he
rushed the White House to disclose it to President Trump himself because,
he later said, the president was taking heat from the media.
Well, later that day, President Trump claimed incorrectly he had been
vindicated for his now debunked allegation that he was wiretapped during
the campaign by President Obama. Nothing that Nunes has disclosed to date
confirms the president`s allegation, but his bizarre attempt to provide
cover to the president by that late night thing, the morning thing has led
many to believe that Nunes could have obtained his information from someone
at the White House itself.
Today, we learned where Nunes saw that classified information and how he snuck to the White House to secretly meet with his source.
“The Washington Post” reports that on the night before his press
conference, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was on his way
to an event late Tuesday when the evening`s plans abruptly changed. After
taking a brief phone call, Representative Nunes swapped cars and slipped
away from his staff. And from there, Nunes proceeded to the White House.
He defended the move in an interview with Bloomberg, saying it was the most
convenient secure location with a computer connected to the system that
included the reports. He added that his source was not a White House
staffer and was an intelligence official, but it wasn`t the White House.
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff from California, called upon Nunes to recuse himself from this investigation.
Pundit: The president said initially he felt somewhat vindicated by what he heard
from Nunes, but he`s walked back from his initial statements. So the White
House not willing to go so far as to say that there should be an
independent investigation into this, Chris, but there are growing calls on
that in Pennsylvania Avenue, and frankly, some here within the White House
behind the scenes, as well.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, he`s (Nunes) betrayed the independence
that we`re supposed to show. He shouldn`t be anywhere near this
investigation, let alone leading it. And when you watch the way that this
White House works when it comes to Russia, this is what it looks like when
you`re covering up the crime. What is so disturbing is that he said
he`s had this information for a very long time, which raises the question,
Well, if you had it for a long time, why didn`t you share it with the
ranking member on our committee? I think it could be more explained if
this was something he received urgently that he had to get to the White
House . . . he`d been sitting on this, allegedly. He shouldn`t have anything to do with Russia. And whether he chairs the committee or not, that`s up to Paul Ryan, who, by the way, not enough`s been talked about – Paul Ryan signed off on every step that
Devin Nunes has taken so far with this investigation, including going to
the White House.
CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Today, the president announced that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will head up a new SWAT team within the administration that has been tasked with
making the federal government run more efficiently, the whole federal
government. Trump is calling it White House Office of American Innovation.
And just last week, Trump enlisted his daughter in a yet-to-be-defined role
at the White House in the West Wing. According to Politico, in her
unofficial role, the first daughter will – quote – “serve as the
president`s eyes and ears, while providing broad-ranging advice, not just
limited to women`s empowerment issues.”
Ivanka`s new position also comes with a West Wing office and, of course,
top security clearance.
But it was only four months ago that president-elect Trump assured the
public that his family would not be receiving clearances.
Trump tweeted: “I`m not trying to get top-level security clearance for my
children. This was a typically false news story.”
Well, while nepotism is illegal, it`s alive and well in the current
administration, because the Justice Department ruled that the law didn`t
apply to this family.
ANNIE KARNI (Politico): There was an article in “Forbes” this week that Eric actually admitted that he does talk to his father, is going to give him quarterly business reports about the company.
But Ivanka`s role in the White House does create another channel of
connection between the company and the White House, that there`s never been
a hard firewall between them.
We have seen Trump only go to Trump-branded properties since he got into
the White House. When he`s at Mar-a-Lago, he`s at his property. When he`s
been here for the weekend, he has gone to the Trump Hotel or to his Trump
golf course in Virginia. Like, this is all sort of free advertising.
Ivanka has been described as her father`s eyes and ears on the ground.
That`s a little scary if you`re just a regular White House staffer who
maybe wants to offer advice that criticizes the president. This is a
person who loyalty is the number one trait that is – that Trump cares
Are people going to feel comfortable offering advice that contradicts the
president in front of Ivanka or Jared? And that could mean that he`s not
getting – the president is not getting advice that would benefit him and
benefit the country, potentially.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Monday, March 27th, 2017.
What can you say about this escapade, the president finds himself in
trouble for tweeting a lame brain charge that his predecessor had
wiretapped him during the campaign? Then, when he can`t back that up, he
finds a member of the Congress ready to come up to the White House one
evening, pick up some info that makes the president seems almost right, and
then the next morning receives that congressman, the president does, with
fanfare and the self exonerating statement that the info somewhat clears
What kind of president would orchestrate such an escapade, what sort of
character one elected member of Congress would agree to play such a
supportive part, changing cars, heading down to the White House at
nightfall, being escorted in, and then filled with exciting info, come
heading back the next morning to share his alarm that the president was
Well, Senate Democratic leader called today for Chairman Nunes to step
down. I think the larger question is whether this president will step up
to the proper role of a president. This whole story smacks of gimmickry.