Devin Nunes may have lied about who told him about Trump wiretapping claim

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman is hemorrhaging credibility

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 31, 2017 2:19PM (EDT)

Devin Nunes   (Getty/Win McNamee)
Devin Nunes (Getty/Win McNamee)

On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California — who as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is entrusted with discovering the truth about President Donald Trump's alleged contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election — was discovered to have prevented former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying. Now his credibility is even further undermined by the revelation that he may have lied about where he received his so-called proof that the Trump campaign had been spied upon by former President Barack Obama.

Eli Lake of Bloomberg wrote on Thursday that Nunes "misled me" by saying his assertion that President Trump had been the victim of "incidental collection" from American spy agencies had come from an intelligence official.

Nunes received his information from Michael Ellis, a lawyer at the White House Counsel's Office, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, according to a report on Thursday by The New York Times. According to Lake, Nunes told him on Thursday that while he disputed parts of the Times' story, he had to concede that he "did use the White House to help to confirm what I already knew from other sources."

Lake then argues that "this is a body blow for Nunes," pointing out that although President Trump made it seem like he was just learning of the incidental collection from Nunes, "it strains credulity to think that Trump would need Nunes to tell him about intelligence reports discovered by people who work in the White House."

When confronted with these reports by the Times, a statement for Nunes said, "As he’s stated many times, Chairman Nunes will not confirm or deny speculation about his source’s identity, and he will not respond to speculation from anonymous sources."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Devin Nunes Donald Trump Incidental Collection