Trump Russia Scandal: 2 White House Officials Fed Secret Intel To Devin Nunes

Jonathan Vankin

Devin Nunes, who as House Intelligence Committee Chair is in charge of investigating the scandal surrounding Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election, received secret intelligence from inside the White House itself, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.

The secret intelligence allegedly showed that Trump and members of his inner circle had been caught on tape by Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance of suspected Russian spies, though the recordings of Trump and other "U.S. persons" was "incidental" to the surveillance. In other words, Trump himself was not a target of the surveillance, but if the reports are accurate, he was communicating with an unknown person who was under FBI investigation.

Read the full New York Times report revealing the names of Nunes' alleged sources inside the White House by visiting this link.

Nunes presented the intelligence to Trump himself but failed to share it with members of the House Intelligence Committee, causing Democratic Ranking Committee member Adam Schiff — like Nunes, a California House rep — to call for Nunes to step down from the Trump Russia investigation.

According to the Times report, however, the intelligence showing that Trump had been "incidentally" recorded came from Trump's lawyer Michael Ellis, who works for the White House on national security issues, and from National Security Council official Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was retained on the NSC even after his boss, Michael Flynn, was fired for lying about his own contacts with Russia.

Before the New York Times named Ellis as a source for Nunes on Thursday, independent journalist Louise Mensch reported on Monday that Ellis was suspected of "illegally sharing information with Nunes – and illegally pressing him to leak it."

Read Mensch's report, "Did Nunes Leak FISA Warrant Info via White House Lawyer Michael Ellis?," by visiting this link.

Nunes himself has so far refused to name his sources, even to Schiff and other members of the House Intelligence Committee, despite that committee's long tradition of bipartisan oversight of the intelligence community.

When Nunes first announced the secret intelligence to the press last week, the information that Trump was caught on tape was widely taken as supporting Trump's own claim that President Barack Obama had him "wiretapped" in Trump Tower, a charge that Trump issued earlier in March and from which he has not backed down — even though no evidence has emerged to support Trump's shocking allegation and FBI Director James Comey expressly testified under oath that the FBI possessed no evidence to for the charge.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that he will not press Nunes to step down from the Trump Russia investigation, even though Schiff said on Wednesday that the House investigation would screech to a halt unless Nunes shared his information with the committee.

"I don't know who his source is," Schiff said in a CBS TV interview. "Here we are a week later, and we still don't know what information (Nunes) received or who it was from. We can't conduct an investigation that way, where we have only the chairman's word to go on."

Ryan claimed in a Thursday interview that Nunes' source was a "whistle blower-type person." But Schiff dismissed that suggestion.

"If (the source) was a whistleblower, that person would want to share the information with the whole committee," Schiff said.

Instead, Schiff said that the intelligence was leaked to Nunes in an attempt to make Trump's claim of being "wiretapped" appear to be true, although no evidence supports the claim.

Nunes himself has said that the "incidental" recordings of Trump and members of his inner circle did not violate any laws.

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[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]