Published: Fri, April 07, 2017
USA | By Yvette Dunn

Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

He described the source as an intelligence official, not a White House official.

Nunes has repeatedly sidestepped questions about who provided him the intelligence reports, though he pointedly has not denied that his sources were in the White House.

If these are the same materials that committee chair Devin Nunes viewed last week and talked about in a pair of press conferences, then Schiff wondered why staff within the White House with regular access to the president and other officials, would choose to bring in Nunes, feed him the information, then have him brief Trump. The Senate intelligence committee is doing its own investigation, and since late July the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

The information seen by Nunes has not yet been shared with others, though the congressman said Tuesday that he hopes to share it with other members of the intelligence committee.

Cohen-Watnick is among about a dozen White House officials who would have access to the types of classified information Nunes says he viewed, according to current and former USA officials. Alhough Nunes maintained that the intelligence gathering was conducted legally, it prompted Trump - who claimed his predecessor, President Barack Obama, "had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower" - to say he felt "somewhat" vindicated.

Nunes is leading one of three investigations into Russia's attempt to influence the campaign and Trump associates' possible involvement.

The canceled hearing would have been the first opportunity for the public to hear Yates' account of her role in the firing of Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

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In the letters, attorney David O'Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking "further constraints" on testimony Yates could provide at a committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

The Justice Department responded to O'Neil saying that the question of what privileged conversations Yates could discuss was ultimately up to the White House. However, Nunes later briefed Trump on the information provided by the source, a move that press secretary Sean Spicer said wouldn't make sense if the information originated from the White House - seemingly indicating that the source works elsewhere. He said the department's position was that all actions she took as deputy attorney general were "client confidences" that could not be disclosed without written approval.

O'Neil declined to comment Tuesday, and a Justice Department spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment. She alerted the White House in January that Flynn had been misleading in his account of a December phone call with the Russian ambassador to the United States in which economic sanctions against Russia were discussed.

Top Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as well as the House Intelligence Committee's ranking member, Adam Schiff, all called for Nunes' removal from the House investigation on Monday.

"It's irregular, to be benign about it, to have a lead investigator kibitzing with the people being investigated", said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn.

"I had been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for and I could actually get access to what I needed to see", said Nunes, adding, "It wasn't at night ... nobody was sneaking around, all it was was just a place where I had to go to be able to review this information". House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview with "CBS This Morning" that aired Thursday, said Nunes told him a "whistleblower-type person" provided the information.

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