From THE HUFFINGTON POST:
Of the many questions surrounding House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and his conduct in investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the most puzzling has to be his explanation for his recent visit to the White House grounds. People who have worked in the White House suggest that, on this matter, Nunes and the White House simply aren’t being credible.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Nunes ditched his own staff the night before making his announcement. On Monday, the news broke that he had gone to the White House grounds to use a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility ― basically, a room or area that meets certain rigorous security standards ― to get the information that formed the basis of his accusations.
This raised the distinct possibility that the White House itself had been the source of the information, and that it had given that information to Nunes so he could provide Trump with some cover for his baseless accusation that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. (The FBI and Nunes himself have said there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims.)
The White House and Nunes both deny that there was any collusion, and the White House has argued that it is possible Nunes came to the grounds without anyone from the administration knowing about it.
But it’s basically impossible to believe that someone from the White House did not at least know that Nunes was coming to use the SCIF to access the information that would form the basis of his now-controversial press conference.
The timing of last week’s events offered the first indication of possible coordination between Nunes and the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Trump told Fox News that evidence to back up his wiretapping claims would soon emerge.
Nunes’ office has confirmed that the congressman’s allegations are based on reports that came from the White House. The documents were “executive branch documents that have not been provided to Congress,” Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, told The Huffington Post.
Moreover, it would be logistically impossible, sources say, for Nunes to get onto the White House grounds ― much less get into a room used for viewing classified information ― without being escorted by someone with an official badge.
Nunes, who has otherwise been tight-lipped about his source, told Bloomberg’s Eli Lake on Monday that his source was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer. Even if that is true, it would have had to have been an intelligence official with cleared White House access (potentially an official on temporary detail with the National Security Council), or Nunes and his source would have had to have been let in by someone else from the White House.
Perhaps Nunes’ most bizarre move thus far has been his refusal to disclose his source’s identity to [Adam] Schiff, his Democratic counterpart, who is regularly briefed on information in his role as the ranking member of the intelligence committee.
Even some of Nunes’ Republican colleagues are puzzled by his handling of the situation.
Nunes has said that he will remain atop the investigation his committee is leading, and that he will never reveal the source of his surveillance accusation. But the trip he took to the White House has prompted bipartisan calls for him to step aside, or for the work to be placed under the auspices of a select committee.