White House coy on claim it informed House intel chief

Ake File Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington

According to The New Yorker, the fact Nunes indeed did this, using it as a fig leaf for Trump's allegations against former President Barack Obama about wiretapping him, and the official knew about it before it happened, demonstrates the strategy and information has been coordinated between Nunes and the White House ahead of time. Intelligence agencies routinely monitor the communications of foreign officials living in the USA, though the identities of Americans swept up in that collection is to be protected.

Spicer said the information was uncovered by the National Security Council, but would not specify whether it was the same intelligence that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes received at the White House last week.

Afterwards, Nunes emerges onto the White House lawn to speak to a gaggle of reporters waiting there. But Nunes announced Monday that he had to cancel the hearing because Comey could not make the hearing.

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The White House refused to say on Thursday whether it gave the top Republican on the House intelligence committee access to highly classified materials. Nunes is chair of the House intelligence panel, which is investigating Russian ties to the 2016 election and possible Trump campaign connections to Russia. But Democrats cast doubts on the timing, and questioned White House's intentions in making the information available to a broader set of lawmakers.

The underlying foreign policy conflict is demonstrated by the line-up within Congress over whether to condemn or support Nunes, which did not break along strictly partisan lines.

But Schiff argued it was up to Nunes to restore credibility in the committee's investigation. Senate Republicans who have opposed Trump's foreign policy shift on Russia, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, condemned the actions of Nunes as "bizarre" and joined with Democratic calls for his ouster, and for the establishment of an independent commission into the alleged Russian intervention in the U.S. elections.

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Cohen-Watnick was recruited to the transition team by McMaster's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned as national security adviser last month after acknowledging that he had misled administration officials about a phone call he had with the Russian ambassador in December.

"There's no question there was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic processes", Cheney told his audience.

"It certainly was a part of our discussion, but beyond what we agreed to do, or hope to achieve to do by the end of the day, I really don't want to get into specifics", Schiff said.

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