At least three senior White House officials, including the top lawyer for the National Security Council, were involved in the handling of intelligence files that were shared with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and showed that Trump campaign officials were swept up in U.S. surveillance of foreign nationals, according to U.S. officials.The White House role in the matter contradicts assertions by the committee's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and adds to mounting concerns that the Trump administration is collaborating with the leader of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
New evidence emerged yesterday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), when he tried to lend credence to a Donald Trump conspiracy theory, relied on dubious information he received from two White House sources. As Rachel noted on the show, the Washington Post reported last night that there was also a third.
The New York Times identified two of Nunes' sources: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel's Office. The Post pointed to a third: John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council.To appreciate just how extraordinary this is, consider a one-sentence summary from Vox's Zack Beauchamp: "Members of the Trump White House selectively leaked classified intelligence that doesn't actually support their boss's claim to a credulous congressman who uncritically parroted the information in a press conference just hours later."That's brutal -- and accurate -- though we can go just a little further.That same credulous congressman is supposed to be overseeing an investigation related to the White House, which makes it problematic that he received selective leaks from the White House, to the benefit of the White House, and then went through the charade of briefing the White House on the information the White House gave him.Nunes also appears to have lied about this.It's not too soon to start wondering what the potential consequences should be for a House Intelligence Committee chairman who may have directly implicated himself in a cover-up he's supposed to be investigating.I also can't help but wonder long House Speaker Paul Ryan can credibly stand by Nunes given his bizarre antics.