Conversations of President Donald Trump's transition team were collected by intelligence officials, and the information about the personnel and the content of those conversations were disseminated, multiple news sources are reporting.
One report from Todd Shepherd of the Washington Examiner says that the conversations "...appeared to be collected 'legally' in the course of 'normal, foreign surveillance..."
The report quotes House Intel Chair, Devin Nunes saying:
"... I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the President-elect and his team were, I guess at least monitored and disseminated out in intelligence, in what appears to be raw — or, I shouldn't say raw — intelligence recording channels ...
The report says Nunes is asserting that the information was legally brought to him by people who thought the Intelligence Committee ought to have the information, and Nunes said most of the incidental collection he viewed appeared to happen in November, December and January, the transition months for the Trump presidency.
"...Nunes' disclosure came just two days after the committee held its first open hearing on the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. In that hearing, FBI Director Jim Comey disclosed that the bureau was investigating Russian influence in the election, and that included potential 'cooperation' by the Trump campaign with Russia ... In Wednesday's press conference, Nunes said he was surprised and 'alarmed' by the new discovery. But he also said he doesn't have enough information to say whether any intelligence was collected on Trump or his team beyond routine foreign surveillance. He said he would try to gather more evidence and material that might definitively answer those questions..."Another report from Bloomberg's Billy House and Margaret Talev says that Nunes was "...troubled by the collection -- which he said was part of unrelated foreign surveillance -- and the fact that the intelligence community reported the names of transition team members internally..."
This report quotes Nunes saying, "...I’m actually alarmed by it ... Details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in an intelligence community report ..." It adds that he didn't know if Trump's own communications were intercepted.
According to House and Talev, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to the news saying "... I do think this is a startling revelation..."
Julie Pace and Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press said the type of surveillance used "... sometimes includes the name of an American that the foreigner is speaking to or about. When this happens, intelligence analysts are obliged to hide or 'minimize' the name of the American, unless knowing the American's name is necessary to understanding the foreign intelligence described in the report..."
According to Pace and Riechmann:
"...Nunes said the names of Trump associates were 'unmasked' after the incidental collection, though he did not identify those aides. Those aides are believed to include Michael Flynn, who was fired as White House national security adviser after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States ... Nunes would not say how he had received the new information ... Nunes notably did not appear alongside Rep. Adam Schiff, the intelligence committee's top Democrat. A Schiff spokesman said Nunes had not informed his Democratic counterpart before disclosing the new information publicly..."
Numerous news sources, media pundits and talking heads until now have asserted that there is no evidence that Trump was wiretapped, but this new revelation appears to contradict those claims.
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