As the scandal surrounding the connections between Donald Trump and Russia yields new developments seemingly every day, Adam Schiff — one of the top Democrats leading the investigation into the Trump Russia scandal — posed two questions for Trump on Sunday morning, questions he said that the White House must answer to clarify its role in leaking information about the scandal.
Schiff, a 56-year-old eight-term congressional representative from the Los Angeles, California, area, appeared Sunday morning on the CNN political interview program State of the Union, hosted by Jake Tapper, where the topic was classified intelligence documents that Schiff viewed on Friday at the White House.
Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, viewed the documents more than a week after that committee’s Republican chair, Devin Nunes, said that he had viewed leaked intelligence that appeared to indicate that Trump and members of his campaign team were under surveillance during the late stages of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Nunes created a firestorm of controversy because he took the documents to the White House to “alert” Trump to the surveillance before sharing them with Schiff or any other committee members. As of Sunday, Nunes had still failed to share the documents — even after it was revealed that his source for those documents was a trio if White House officials, and that he obtained the documents at the White House itself.
Nunes said that the surveillance was legal and occurred only “incidentally,” meaning that Trump was recorded while speaking to someone who was targeted by the surveillance warrant.
When Schiff himself visited the White House on Friday to finally view the documents, he was told that they were the same documents that Nunes had seen — even though White House officials earlier claimed that no one in the administration had seen those documents, the Democratic rep told Tapper.
“How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman if the White House wasn’t aware what the chairman was being shown?” Schiff asked, saying that the answer to that question was “the most important thing people need to know about these documents.”
Watch Schiff’s interview with Tapper on Sunday in the video below.
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer had earlier said that the documents viewed by Schiff had been created “in the ordinary course of business” at the White House. But Schiff said that assertion raised another important question.
“Well, the question for the White House and for Mr. Spicer is the ordinary course of whose business? Because, if these were produced either for or by the White House, then why all of the subterfuge? There’s nothing ordinary about the process that was used here at all.”
Schiff has emerged in recent weeks as the most visible and vocal figure in congress demanding answers from Trump. But when Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — who was fired for lying about his meetings with Russian officials — requested immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff said the committee turned the request down.
On Sunday, Schiff told CNN that he treats Flynn’s request with “healthy skepticism,” saying that premature grant of immunity for Flynn could interfere with any case that the FBI may be building against Flynn.
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