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White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued to push back against questions about House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes during Wednesday’s daily press briefing.
Reporters continued to probe Nunes’ meeting with an unnamed source on White House grounds the day before he briefed President Donald Trump on his findings without first briefing members of his own committee.
Throughout the White House briefing Wednesday, Spicer questioned what he thought was an unfair amount of focus on where and how Nunes obtained his information, rather than its content.
CBS reporter Major Garrett asked Spicer whether he had any more details about how Nunes got his information.
“It’s interesting that there seems to be this fascination with the process. It’s…how did he get here, what door did he enter … as opposed to what I think it should be,” Spicer said, which is “what’s the substance” of the intel.
Spicer then pointed to what he charged was a substantive contrast between questions being about Nunes’ handling of intelligence and other questions.
“So many times, I get these calls that ‘we have an unnamed intel source that says the following substance occurred. Do you admit it, do you deny it,’ whatever,” Spicer said. In this case, he said, the “fascination” is with the process by which Nunes obtained his intelligence.
Garrett pushed back against Spicer’s assertion, saying the question was relevant in this case because members of Nunes’ own committee are still in the dark about the intelligence he received, since he has not yet shared it with them and is refusing to name his source.
Information about Nunes’ visit to the White House could also help clear up questions about the significance of the intelligence he reviewed there, Garrett said.
“Don’t you want to know those things? Isn’t that a standard he should be held to?” Garrett said.
“If we start looking into the certain things,” Spicer said, “then the accusation the next day” will involve questions about why the White House looked into one matter and not another, Spicer said.
“On one hand, you want certain answers, and on the other hand, you want to talk about [the White House] being involved,” he added. “We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t on this stuff.”
Adding that the White House supports the intelligence committee’s investigation overall, Spicer said, “We can’t cherry-pick every time that you decide a piece of information is relevant to what you want.”
Garrett continued to probe into Nunes’ actions.
“The members of the very committee themselves say they don’t know what is being discussed. What is the process going forward? How is that a workable process?” he said.
When Spicer said that he didn’t have authority over how the committee conducted its investigation, Garrett replied, “You do have authority about whether he gets into this building and can review security information on this site.”
Spicer said the White House does not control the process by which the committee investigates the president’s and his associates’ ties to Russia.
“How he conducts himself with his members, when and where he shares things … are issues for him and the committee and the House of Representatives, not for us. That’s it. Plain and simple,” Spicer said.