31 March, 2017
He told reporters last week that he had seen troubling information about the improper distribution of Trump associates' intercepted communications, and he briefed the president on the material, all before informing his Democratic counterpart on the House committee.
Nunes and Schiff met Thursday after a week's worth of canceled hearings and bickering between the committee leaders, as their investigation turned partisan following a decision by Nunes, a Republican, to go to the press and White House with intelligence before alerting the committee.
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Schiff was referring to the two White House sources that the New York Times reported Thursday secretly provided Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) with classified information. Nunes has claimed his sources weren't White House staff and also said the reports didn't come from anyone who would have an interest in backing up Trump's evidence-free claims about wiretapping at Trump Tower.
The Times story said Cohen-Watnick found classified reports of top foreign officials talking about developing connections with Trump's family and allies.
Cohen-Watnick is among about a dozen White House officials who would have access to the types of classified information Nunes says he viewed, according to current and former US officials.
He said he wants to know why the materials appeared to be directed through Nunes if they originated at the White House.
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Compounding the problem is the contention that President Trump and the Republicans have no realistic replacement alternative. The health care act sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
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"The White House has a lot of questions to answer", he declared.
Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.
Spicer had previously dismissed the notion that the White House had funneled information to Nunes, saying the idea that the congressman would come and brief Trump on material the president's team already had "doesn't pass the smell test".
Democrats say Nunes is too close to the White House and Trump, and they want him to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the internal matter. Cohen-Watnick serves as the senior director for intelligence at the NSC.
The report did not make clear exactly what the pair did to assist Nunes.
Comey said he would not testify without a formal invite, a spokesman for Nunes told CNN.