National Security

Intelligence chairman apologizes to committee Dems for press briefing

Greg Nash

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Thursday morning apologized to committee Democrats for going public with information about government surveillance on the Trump campaign before speaking to them, according to a committee aide.

The apology drew swift praise from Senate Intelligence Committee member James Lankford (R-Okla.). That panel is also investigating Russian interference in the election, but has been far less public about its progress or findings.

“I applaud Chairman Nunes’ apology. Intel Cmte investigation into #Russia is nonpartisan & thorough,” Lankford tweeted. “We follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House panel, was more restrained, telling CNN that Nunes apologized “in a generic way.”

{mosads}Nunes on Wednesday told reporters and the White House that he had learned from a source that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of Trump’s transition team and then “widely disseminated” the information internally.

But Democrats on the committee were blindsided, as were many Republicans.

Alleged surveillance of the Trump campaign became part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election after the president’s claim early this month that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower — making Nunes’s decision to cut out members of his own committee unusual.

The move threatened to throw the committee into open partisan warfare and sparked calls for Nunes to be removed from the chairmanship.

Nunes on Wednesday defended his decision to go directly to the president with the information because “what I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russia investigation.”

“It has everything to do with possible surveillance activities, and the president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there, and I have a duty to tell him that,” Nunes said at the time.

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