House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes just gave a press conference.
House Intel Chair: Intel community incidentally collected info about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition pic.twitter.com/KWRA76MWam
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
This is the gist via Politico:
Members of the Donald Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under surveillance during the Obama administration following November’s election, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters Wednesday.
Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been legal, incidental collection and that it does not appear to have been related to concerns over collusion with Russia.
Nunes is going to the White House later Wednesday to brief the Trump administration on what he has learned, which he said came from “sources.”
Fox has more of the presser:
Members of the intelligence community collected ‘incidental’ communications of the Trump transition team during legal surveillance operations, producing ‘dozens’ of reports which eventually unmasked several individuals’ identities and which were ‘widely disseminated,’ a top lawmaker said Wednesday afternoon.
And the unmasking of a US person in a non-criminal intercept is a felony. I don’t think anyone, anywhere has tried to dispute that. In fact, both Comey and Rogers acknowledged that the unmasking of Flynn was criminal.
Whoa. At presser, Nunes just revealed IC collected info about Americans associated w/ the Trump transition team—separate from Russia probe.
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) March 22, 2017
And I think that last tweet sums it up. The operative phrasing here is “Members of the Donald Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself.” If it had been singular, then we’d know they were talking about Mike Flynn. But this clearly is a plural and what is troubling is that the targets were obviously foreign diplomats talking to the Trump team. This is exactly what several FISA authorities have hypothesized. If we give any credence to the article by Louise Mensch (and I say “if” because everyone said she was a whackadoodle until this week when she became hostile to Trump and suddenly the same people are quoting her as a former member of Parliament”) that a FISA warrant was requested to cover Trump and some members of his campaign but it was declined, you have the obvious and illegal backdoor of surveillance of eligible FISA targets, i.e. any diplomat, when the real objective is who they are talking to.
Specifically, this looks like it is directly related this March 1 New York Times article that related the efforts of Ben Rhodes and his merry band of morons to spread classified information far and wide under the pretense of preserving it.
This doesn’t make Trump’s claim of being wiretapped on Obama’s orders more accurate — and as several people have noted, the denials have all been carefully worded to focus on “Obama ordered” — but it makes it very clear that for the first time in our history an incoming administration was placed under surveillance by its predecessor.