Intelligence Dems still in the dark about surveillance documents: lawmakers

Intelligence Dems still in the dark about surveillance documents: lawmakers
© Greg Nash

Frustrated Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee on Friday morning said they still have not seen intelligence from Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that he says shows some form of potentially inappropriate surveillance or unmasking of Trump campaign associates.

“Nothing — zero. He’s provided absolutely nothing,” ranking member Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said. “He’s not sharing what he told us yesterday he would share.”

Asked if he was concerned Nunes was withholding information from Democrats, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said, “Well, we haven’t got the information that he talked about the other day.”

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Nunes on Thursday morning apologized to committee Democrats for going public with the information before speaking to them — and promised to share information with the minority about his findings.

According to Nunes, he saw the documents at the agency where they are housed. He has provided vague and at times contradictory answers as to whether Trump associates were directly involved, saying that he is waiting to receive more information from the National Security Agency (NSA).

He told reporters Friday morning that the NSA was complying fully but that he did not expect to receive all of that documentation on Friday, as had been previously expected.

Prior to Nunes’s startling disclosure earlier this week, Nunes and Schiff together had sent a joint request for information that the chair said Friday “should encompass everything that I’ve seen.”

Among other things, the letter demands to know who in U.S. government requested or authorized the unmasking of anyone associated with the Trump campaign.

“It is possible that we will receive documents from the NSA today as we have requested, but I want to caution that I don’t expect the entirety of everything that we need today,” Nunes said.

At this point, Nunes appears to be the only lawmaker who has seen the intelligence documents that he says “alarmed” him enough to brief the president immediately. 

Democrats are outraged by Nunes’s handling of his discovery and have called for an independent commission to take over the investigation.

“It looks like he’s running his own intelligence service at this point. He’s collecting classified information and briefing the president,” Swalwell said.

Minority members met behind closed doors on Friday morning to “figure out what’s next,” Swalwell said. In the past, they have threatened to walk away from the investigation if they feel that it is not being handled ethically.

Quigley said that while some committee Democrats were frustrated enough to want to walk away, there was a recognition that if they do so, they would be completely cutting off their ability to influence the investigation.

“The worst choice would be to leave the investigation, the lights would go out,” Quigley said. “Occasionally members in frustration will say something like that, but when the group gets together, they recognize what I just said.”

But, he said, “We’re having a lot of WTF moments.”