The committee's investigation has effectively ground to a halt after Nunes went to the White House last week with information of potential surveillance of Trump's aides, without telling Democrats on the committee first. One of them, identified by the Times as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, "was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser", the Times reports.
Citing unnamed US officials, the Times identified the White House officials as "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 Times story detailed that Cohen-Watnick began reviewing the highly classified reports on which he reportedly later briefed Nunes shortly after Trump made his unfounded claim on Twitter that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. He told reporters last week that he had seen troubling information about the improper distribution of Trump associates' intercepted communications, and he briefed the president on the material, all before informing his Democratic counterpart on the House committee.
Cohen-Watnick and Rep. Nunes both served on the Trump transition team.
The White House's invitation letter came amid a quickly rising storm over Rep. Devin Nunes, who heads the House intelligence committee. One day after the meeting, Nunes revealed in a press conference he had new information that showed the USA intelligence community incidentally surveilled Trump's team during the transition. Schiff today said Nunes has yet to inform him what was the info, where he saw it, and who showed it to him.
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Spicer said the information being made available to lawmakers was uncovered by the National Security Council.
"We want to find out also if, in fact, these are the same as - or a subset of - the same materials earlier provided to the chairman, why that circuitous method, to use a diplomatic term, was employed to provide them to the committee", Schiff said.
The committee's work has been deeply, and perhaps irreparably, undermined by Nunes' apparent co-ordination with the White House. Nunes has resisted, defending his actions. Then, Spicer pivoted to a line he's used already this week, lecturing Garett on the press' "obsession" with the process by which Nunes has gotten his information.
Comey said he would not testify without a formal invite, a spokesman for Nunes told CNN.