Nunes: House Intel probing whether informants gathered data on Trump, Russia prior to authorized probe

House Intelligence Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump hits Twitter: 'They don't treat me well as a Republican' Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Schiff, Nunes pressed DOJ for Mueller briefing MORE (R-Calif.) revealed in an interview on Thursday on "Rising" that the committee is probing whether the FBI sent informants to gather dirt on President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE and possible ties to Russia prior to the authorized investigation, which was launched in July 2016. 

"It’s one of the outstanding questions that we have for the Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinPoll: Majority says Barr's summary of Mueller report was 'largely accurate' Heavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system Top Judiciary Republican reviews less-redacted Mueller report MORE. We’ve had that question out to them for pretty much three months now. They have not answered it yet," Nunes told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton, who sat down with the lawmaker on Wednesday. 

"Is it your belief it is likely that there was activity going on in advance of the start of that official FBI investigation?" Sexton asked. 

“I will just tell you we wouldn’t be asking those questions if we didn’t think we had some suspicion of that," Nunes responded. "The problem with this is, running informants into political campaigns, or political campaign actors on the counterintelligence side especially, is a major problem."

"It’s because we give special powers to our counterintelligence officials because really a lot of Americans' basic rights are taken away through that process because it’s dealing with national security, it’s usually high level," he continued. 

"So there should be a very high bar before you open up a counterintelligence investigation. So, if you are running informants into campaigns before or after you open an official investigation, most Americans, when you sit them down and talk to them, they know that that’s something really bad and that only happens in third world countries," he said.

Nunes's comments come after a group of conservative House lawmakers introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, who has been overseeing the federal probe into Russia's election interference since Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump poised to roll back transgender health protections Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE recused himself last year. 

— Julia Manchester