The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday said he is sure officials in the West Wing had no idea he visited White House grounds to view classified material last week.
“I’m quite sure people at West Wing had no idea I was there,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
But he refused to say who from the White House cleared his visit.
Nunes also contended his visit was not the clandestine trip he said the media reported it to be.
“I wasn’t trying to hide,” Nunes said, adding that he stopped to talk to several people during the visit, including foreign dignitaries.
"If I wanted to, I could have snuck onto the White House grounds at night when nobody would have seen me," he said, disputing reports that he made the trip at night.
The visit came one day before he told reporters -- without briefing committee Democrats -- that intelligence on members of President Trump’s transition team had been incidentally collected. He then went to the White House to share information with President Trump.
Nunes said he was on White House grounds in order to view classified intelligence materials that had nothing to do with Russia or the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s interference in the United States presidential election. He also reiterated that Trump's claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped was unfounded.
He said he could not view the materials in the Capitol complex because the sources could not take the documents there.
"Congress has not been given this information, that’s the problem," he said.
But he noted that, “probably at least once a week if not more than that, we have to go to the executive branch to read classified intelligence,” he said.
The House intelligence chief said he did not plan to go to the White House the next day, but what he saw changed his plans.
Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chucker Schumer (D-N.Y.), have now called on Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
In the midst of Nunes' CNN interview, his Democratic counterpart on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Bannon eyed as key link between White House, Jan. 6 riot MORE called on the chairman to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign and transition team.
After much consideration I believe Chairman should recuse himself from involvement in investigation/oversight of Trump campaign & transition pic.twitter.com/jpfA1x80Si— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 27, 2017