House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was on Fox News Sunday. While the major headline he made was covered by Jay Caruso earlier today, to wit, there is no evidence Trump or Trump tower was directly wiretapped with or without Obama’s orders, the whole interview is much more nuanced and has a lot of good stuff. I’m embedding the whole interview that pertains to the Trump investigation here. Be sure to check out Jennifer Van Laar’s summary at Townhall. Poor woman has to work here and there to keep body and soul together.
Rather than give you the whole transcript I’m going to break it up into pieces.
We don’t know who, if anyone, in Trump’s campaign was wiretapped incidentally.
WALLACE: As I said, we’re going to get to the unmasking issue, which is a serious issue, in a moment. But is — do you know what he’s talking about? Is there any evidence of any surveillance, electronic surveillance —
NUNES: Well, if he’s talking about the unmasking of names, and so if there were other surveillance activities where names were picked up and then unmasking occurred, and that was spread throughout the intelligence community, that is very — that is very possible, and we don’t have the answers to those questions yet. I don’t know if the president has those are not. But we had a deadline of Friday for the NSA, FBI and CIA to get us those names that were unmasked through the FISA system. We didn’t get those names on Friday. So until we get those names, we can’t rule this out.
This is an important qualifier to his statement about there being no wiretap. He is specifically referring to a US person being the target, not incidentally collected.
Nunes is concerned that the intelligence community is changing its assessments due to political pressure.
Secondly, we’re worried about analytical integrity. We don’t know how there were information changed and if information changed because in December, the beginning of December, the assessment was that, hey, the Russians were trying to go — get into our election process and cause problems and sew doubt in our — in our system. But then that changed a month later and they it said, no, no, no, that they were trying to help Donald Trump. So we need to get to the bottom of that.
This is something that has been commented on here and at other places. We knew the Russians were mucking about in the election since the summer of 2016. Obama didn’t care. No one cared. Then suddenly, on November 9, the assessment changed from the Russians are mucking about in the election to the Russians were working to help Trump. That is a quantum shift in analysis that seems to be 100% driven by the electoral outcome.
There is a possibility that other US persons associated with Trump were caught in FISA wiretaps and had their names unmasked and those names were not printed by the media.
WALLACE: I — I guess — because there’s a little confusion here. You — it’s clear that Michael Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador were swept up by electronic intelligence and, as you say, unmasked. Here’s the name of an American, and that’s illegal, that was leaked to the public. Do we believe there was any specific — well, do we know of anybody else other than Mike Flynn who was — who was swept up in this?
NUNES: Well, you’re — you’re right to point that out, because the one crime we know that’s been committed is that one, the leaking of someone’s name through the FISA system. That is — that is a crime that’s been committed. We don’t know the answer to that. That’s what we’re trying to get to the bottom of. Were there any other names that were unmasked, leaked, and leaked out? We just don’t know that yet.
WALLACE: Do we think there was any surveillance of people in Trump world, or do we think that there was surveillance of other people, like Ambassador Kislyak, and that these folks who were talking to them were incidentally swept up in the conversations, in the — in the intercepts?
NUNES: Well, if you look at the folks that are working in the White House today that are involved in the — in the Trump — in the Trump administration, I don’t think there’s any but one there that’s under any type of — of — of investigation or surveillance activities at all. When you consider — when you look at what happened to General Flynn, it’s very, very concerning. This is — this is someone, you know, look, the president had the right to get rid of him. He’s going — he’s not in the administration any longer, but he is — was an American citizen. He was talking to the Russian ambassador. Talking to diplomats in this town, as you know, Chris, is something that happens — occurs on a — on a regular basis. I probably talk to a dozen — a dozen diplomats a week. And, you know, we should not be going after our diplomats and making them into — as if it’s — as if it’s wrong to talk to diplomats in his town. That is his job.
A valid concern. We don’t know the extent to which the FISA surveillance of Russians was used to bootstrap the FISA surveillance of Trump campaign figures and other political figures.
There is no evidence of any collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign and the Russians.
WALLACE: I want to ask you — it’s a little bit confusing and I want to put — try to button this down. Two bottom line questions. First, as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as you sit here today before the hearing on March 20th, have you seen any evidence of any collusion between what I’ll call Trump world, associates, of campaign officials, Trump world and the Russians to swing the 2016 presidential election?
NUNES: I’ll give you a very simple answer. No.
WALLACE: No evidence of any collusion.
NUNES: No evidence.
Pretty definitive judgment, no?
Nunes points at former Obama officials (that crack you just heard was Ben Rhodes’ sphincter passing the sound barrier as it snapped shut) as the leakers and he says they leaked with the deliberate intent of damaging the Trump administration, not out of a higher duty.
WALLACE: Do you believe that there are elements inside the intelligence community or the FBI that are leaking information, like the name of Mike Flynn, like perhaps the fact that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador to undercut the Trump presidency?
NUNES: I think that’s pretty clear. And, in fact, I mean there’s been —
WALLACE: Pretty clear what?
NUNES: It’s pretty clear that that’s happening. There’s even been stories written about it in — in numerous newspapers talking about how they said — they left breadcrumbs around to hurt the Trump administration.
WALLACE: So you believe that there are people inside these intelligence communities —
NUNES: I don’t think so anymore. I think it was largely people maybe who were there, had classified information, who are now no longer there and decided to leak it.
It is an obvious conclusion but one that no one in the media has been willing to voice because they are heavily invested in the “leaking classified information is the highest form of dissent and therefore the highest form of patriotism” narrative.
The only crime identified so far has been divulging Mike Flynn’s name:
WALLACE: But, to make it clear, when you talk about the crime scene, you’re talking about the leaking of names of Americans that shouldn’t have been leaked as part of our electronic surveillance.
NUNES: Yes (ph).
WALLACE: You’re not talking about anything involving the Trump campaign?
NUNES: Because that’s the only crime that we know has been committed right now. That we know. We know a law has been broken and we need to get to the bottom of it. As it relates to the Russians, we are happy to investigate it because I think Putin is a bad actor on the world stage.
On the whole, Nunes lets us know that unless there is a lot more information out there, the whole Trump-Russia connection is bullsh**. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. But it will.