Intelligence chairman: Justice report shows no evidence for Trump’s claims of wiretapping during campaign
March 20, 2017 12:21 AM
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., right, accompanied by the committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday about their investigation of Russian influence on the American presidential election.
By Mike DeBonis / The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that there was no proof in new documents provided to Congress by the Justice Department on Friday to support President Donald Trump’s claim that his predecessor had ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower.
“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, but there never was, and the information we got on Friday continues to lead us in that direction,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chairman, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He added, “There was no FISA warrant that I’m aware of to tap Trump Tower” — a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a federal law that governs the issuance of search warrants in U.S. intelligence gathering.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat, said, “We are at the bottom of this: There is nothing at the bottom.”
Mr. Nunes and Mr. Schiff spoke a day before his panel holds its first public hearing on alleged Russian attempts to interfere in last year’s presidential election — a subject that is expected to include discussion of contacts between Trump campaign figures and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned last month after it was revealed that he had privately discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington before Mr. Trump took office.
Also Monday, Judge Neil Gorsuch arrives on Capitol Hill to begin his confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court, giving Mr. Trump his first chance to make a lasting imprint on the federal judiciary — and Republicans a fresh test to work their will now that they control all of Washington’s levers of power.
Senate Republicans’ enthusiastic backing of Mr. Trump’s nominee ensures majority support even before the confirmation hearing begins, but the Republicans also hope that enough Democrats are won over by Judge Gorsuch — or recognize the inevitability of his confirmation — that they join in efforts to head off an explosive showdown over a filibuster.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is returning to the road, rallying supporters to recapture the enthusiasm of his campaign and reassuring them about his tumultuous early days in office.
He is set to be in Louisville, Ky., on Monday night, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is seen as hamstrung by forces he can’t control.
At the same time, the Trump administration Sunday had to give an emphatic “no” to the question of whether Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would gut Meals on Wheels.
Also, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has rejected the Justice Department’s request for clarification on his temporary order blocking Mr. Trump’s revised travel ban. Mr. Trump has indicated the ruling will be appealed.
As the troubles mount, a shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser has become embedded at every Cabinet agency to be Mr. Trump’s eyes and ears. The network reports to Rick Dearborn, the White House deputy chief of staff for policy, according to officials.
And on the subject of the wiretapping claims, Mr. Schiff, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he expected FBI Director James Comey to testify at the hearing that there is no factual basis for Mr. Trump’s claims. “I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase, because what the president said was just patently false,” the Democrat said.
The two House leaders did not agree on whether the question of collusion between Trump campaign figures and Russian operatives has been settled.
Mr. Nunes said the new Justice Department documents, submitted in response to a congressional request, included “no evidence of collusion” to swing the election in Mr. Trump’s favor and repeated previous statements that there is no credible proof of any active coordination. The lawmaker said he remained concerned about leaks of U.S. surveillance of conversations between Mr. Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
But Mr. Schiff said there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as “direct evidence” that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.
The New York Times, The Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers contributed.