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The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said he had seen reports that showed that the intelligence community had “incidentally collected” information about President Donald Trump’s transition team.
In a brief press conference, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California said the collection occurred on “numerous occasions” and was unrelated to the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
“Details about US persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting,” Nunes said.
“I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked,” he added. “Finally, I want to be clear: None of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”
Nunes told reporters he believed the information was collected legally under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he did not know if the surveillance consisted of phone calls, but that the intelligence reports he’s seen “clearly show” Trump and his team were “monitored.”
Nunes said the White House was unaware of the information he was providing to the media and that he would meet with administration officials later on Wednesday to discuss the matter. He said he had briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan on what he revealed.
“I’m actually alarmed by it,” Nunes said, later adding that he could not confirm whether the collection meant Trump was “spied on.”
Nunes, who was a member of the Trump transition team himself, is leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to manipulate the election.
During a hearing on Monday, FBI Director James Comey told the committee that the bureau had been investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russia government since late July. Comey also said the Department of Justice could provide no evidence to back up Trump’s explosive claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.