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Schiff: I have 'grave concerns' over Nunes's surveillance claim

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that he has "grave concerns" over Chairman Devin Nunes's (R-Calif.) handling of the Trump Tower wiretapping investigation.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump calls Saudi explanation for journalist's death credible, arrests 'good first step' Schiff: If Khashoggi was fighting in consulate he was fighting 'for his life' Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack MORE (D-Calif.) criticized Nunes for his surprise announcement earlier in the day that he had seen intelligence intercepts that showed authorities had incidentally gathered information on members of the Trump transition team during investigations that the chairman said were not related to Russia.

Nunes made the announcement at a press conference, saying the information had been "widely disseminated" in an implicit criticism of intelligence community officials. 

He then briefed the White House about his findings and appeared on CNN — without talking to Schiff, who knocked the chairman for not sharing the information. 

"If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been," Schiff said in a statement that criticized Nunes for a "profound irregularity" in how he had handled the situation.

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"The Chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the Chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way," he said.

After making his announcement, Nunes said that President Trump was "to some degree" right about being surveilled by U.S. intelligence.
 
"I think the bottom line here is that ... President Trump, to some degree, is right that he did end up in some intelligence reports, and I don't think he knew about it," he told CNN, later clarifying that Trump is "not right" about the precise claim that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
 
Schiff maintained that if Trump and his aides ended up in a lawfully compiled intelligence report, they were likely not the subjects of surveillance.
 
"As to the substance of what the Chairman has alleged, if the information was lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials, that would mean that U.S. persons would not have been the subject of surveillance," he said.  
 
"In my conversation late this afternoon, the Chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties," he added.

Schiff also said that it is "impossible" to evaluate the accuracy of Nunes's claim while reiterating that the committee does not support the president's wiretapping allegation.

"Because the committee has still not been provided the intercepts in the possession of the chairman, it is impossible to evaluate the chairman's claims. It certainly does not suggest — in any way — that the President was wiretapped by his predecessor."