WASHINGTON – The FBI still hasn’t turned over information on surveillance that Congress asked for nearly two weeks ago as part of its investigation into possible spying by the Obama administration on then-President-elect Trump’s transition team.
A source in the House Intelligence Committee confirmed to WND that FBI Director James Comey still has not responded to the request chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., made March 15.
Nunes said last week that the NSA was cooperating, but he was still waiting to hear from the FBI.
But a possible stonewall by the FBI on such an explosive issue is not what the major news media wanted to talk about at Monday’s daily press briefing at the White House.
For weeks, reporters have demanded to know: Where is the evidence to back up President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration spied on him?
But now that Nunes has said he has evidence to confirm the spying, the media are in an uproar, demanding to know how he got such information.
Nunes said he got the information from sources in the intelligence community.
NBC’s Hallie Jackson asked White House Press Secretary Spicer, “Why is this leak OK, but other leaks are not?”
Because, he replied while pointing out the obvious, the chairman of the intelligence committee is cleared to see classified material. Reporters are not.
That didn’t stop reporters who seemed to be bursting at the seams with questions once they detected the possible scent of a scandal.
New information came to light over the weekend. Suddenly, reporters weren’t just demanding to know how Nunes got the intelligence information, but they were grilling Spicer about where he got it.
To recap, Nunes had announced Wednesday, as WND reported, he had learned from intelligence sources that “on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
And details about those people “were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting” even though they had “little or no apparent foreign intelligence value.”
Over the weekend, it was reported that on Tuesday, the day before Nunes made his announcement, he had come to the White House to meet a source and review dozens of intelligence reports on the Trump transition team acquired via government spying.
Reporters seemed to smell blood.
Why the White House?
Why did Nunes have to come to the White House to see the information?
The media antennae were all aflutter with the whiff of scandal.
Was the White House leaking the information? Was the White House guilty of what it had accused the Obama administration of doing?
Actually, Nunes had already explained earlier in the day, in an interview, why he had come to the White House to view the information.
The chairman told Bloomberg News, “We don’t have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress,” and the White House was simply the most convenient secure location that had a computer connected to the system that housed the reports.
Nunes also said his source was an intelligence official and not a member of the White House staff.
But that didn’t stop reporters from trying to insinuate the White House may have been the source of the information, or that the administration and Nunes had somehow been tainted.
“Are you satisfied that you don’t have an inappropriate leak in the executive branch?” a reporter asked Spicer.
He said that was not a concern.
It didn’t stop.
Another reporter asked, “Will the administration pursue, will the White House pursue a leak investigation into whoever is giving Chairman Nunes this information, if it’s in the executive branch?”
“At this point,” the spokesman explained, “we’re letting his review of this situation proceed. And we can address that after he decides to be clear about that.”
It still didn’t stop.
“Do you have issues with the idea that someone, perhaps in the executive branch, shared information from the White House grounds without you knowing about it? Or are you investigating this? Do you believe there was a leak?”
Spicer said he only knew what Nunes had said publicly.
“I’m not going to get into who he met with or why he met with them. I think that’s something that he had made very clear, and I’ll let him answer it,” Spicer said.
The reporter followed up: “But to come to White House grounds, you have to be cleared …”
“No, not necessarily,” replied the press secretary. “I don’t know that members of Congress need to be cleared.”
Later, he was asked, “Who in the White House signed him in, essentially, to be able to …”
Spicer interjected: “I don’t know that you have to. I’ll be glad to check on that. I’m not sure that that’s how that works. But I will follow up on that point.”
Another reporter put the question in the form of a statement: “It appears there was some degree of cooperation in this process that the White House granted Chairman Nunes, making it not just an investigative action, but a cooperative one.”
“Number one,” replied the press secretary, “we’ve asked both of these entities, both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees, to undertake this review. So it is partially at our request that they’re looking into this.”
And, “Number two, based on the public comments that he made to Margaret’s organization (Bloomberg), he has said, from my understanding, on the record, that he did not meet with White House staff. So, again, I think you’re trying to make something that he, himself, from what I’ve read, has not actually been the case.”
Still focusing on the messenger over the message, another reporter asked, “Is your position that the White House is not going to look into where he got the information from or who gave him the information until his investigation is complete?”
Spicer patiently answered yet again: “I’m not aware of where he got it from. I know in his public statements he’s talked about having multiple sources.”
He added, “I think that at this point, the goal would be to wait until the review that he is undertaking is completed.”
And still trying to tie the White House to the source of Nunes’ information, a reporter asked, “Why would Nunes need to brief the president on documents he viewed on White House grounds?”
By now getting a bit fed up, Spicer replied: “Because that’s a big assumption that you’re making that that’s the only thing. As I said just a second ago, he had multiple sources on multiple topics. We don’t know what he briefed him on in its totality. And so to jump to that conclusion is, frankly, irresponsible.”
Not giving up without a fight, yet another reporter returned to the original thinly veiled accusation by asking, “Can you say factually, absolutely flatly, that it is not possible that Chairman Nunes came to brief the president on something that he obtained from the White House or the administration?”
“I can’t say 100 percent that I know anything [about] what he briefed him on,” replied Spicer.
“So it’s possible?” the reporter pressed on. “As far as you know right now, it’s possible?”
“Anything is possible,” he concluded with a dollop of sarcasm clearly intended to convey that it was as unlikely as reporters giving up on the subject.