'Likely to Fuel Criticism That the Intelligence Chairman Has Been Too Eager to Do the Bidding of the Trump Administration'
The New York Times reports that two White House officials "played a role" in giving information to now-embattled House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. 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.
Flynn was fired by Trump weeks after then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the Trump administration he was likely susceptible to Russian blackmail, according to numerous reports. Trump fired Flynn, allegedly, for lying to Vice President Mike Pence.
BREAKING: 2 White House officials helped give House Intelligence Committee Chair Nunes intelligence reports - NYTimes pic.twitter.com/DCCf66Mzo8â€” CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) March 30, 2017
Nunes, rather than focusing on the impact Russia had on the 2016 election, and rather than focusing on preventing further foreign intervention, decided to go on a witch-hunt against U.S. intelligence agencies for what he claimed was wrongful "unmasking" of individuals associated with the Trump campaign, transition team, or administration, including probably President Donald Trump. Those individuals' names, according to Nunes, should have been masked as they were not subjects of investigation, but were incidentally swept up as intelligence agencies surveiled other individuals.
"The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports â€” which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump â€” is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia's meddling in the last presidential election," The New York Times reported Thursday afternoon.
"Several current American officials 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 and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee," Times adds.
Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials said that this month, shortly after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter about being wiretapped on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.
The Times adds, notably, that their sources "said the reports consisted primarily of ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how they were trying to develop contacts within Mr. Trump's family and inner circle in advance of his inauguration."
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