Schiff: WH Raises 'Profound Questions' With Revelations About Intel Materials

Posted March 31, 2017

He said he wants to know why the materials appeared to be directed through Nunes if they originated at the White House.

Behind the occasionally freaky details, however, lie major foreign policy disputes within the U.S. ruling elite, with powerful forces, particularly in the military-intelligence apparatus, opposed to Trump's apparently softer line on Russia-or at least, his shift towards confronting China and Iran first, rather than continuing with the Obama policy of confronting Russian Federation in the Middle East, Ukraine and the Baltic states.

Cohen-Watnick was almost fired earlier in the month at the request of National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, but was overruled by US President Donald Trump after he appealed to White House advisers Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump's Jewish son-in-law.

He questioned why the materials came to the White House by way of Nunes rather than by a more direct route.

Schiff said he and Nunes have agreed to go forward with a closed hearing with FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers. In the letter, the administration invited him and Nunes to review National Security Council documents relevant to the investigation.

The White House refused to say on Thursday whether it gave the top Republican on the House intelligence committee access to highly classified materials.

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The underlying foreign policy conflict is demonstrated by the line-up within Congress over whether to condemn or support Nunes, which did not break along strictly partisan lines. One of them, identified by the Times as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, "was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser", the Times reports.

"If that was created to hide the origin of the materials, that raises profound questions about just what the White House is doing", Schiff said.

But Schiff argued it was up to Nunes to restore credibility in the committee's investigation.

A number of Democrats, and even a Republican legislator, have called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.

If, in fact, it was info White House staffers found in the ordinary course of their work, why all the "cloak and dagger stuff" with Nunes, instead of taking the information straight to Trump, Schiff questioned.

That committee is trying to figure out if there was Russian interference in last November's presidential election. "We are focused on the substance of it and I think the goal is to make sure people have the substance that are looking into this". It's unknown who was on the other end.