Trump was seemingly out of options. At a public hearing last Monday, Trump’s claim that President Obama had “tapped” Trump Tower was definitively debunked.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) emerged a couple of days later with a bizarre announcement that he “recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
Nunes has steadfastly refused to say whether the information came from a White House source.
On Monday, Nunes told CNN that he was in fact on the White House grounds on Tuesday, the night before he told Trump and reporters about his discovery. He told the network that he did not visit the White House itself, he was there because he needed a secure area to view the documents he received, and that no one in the White House even knew he was there.
Those claims make little sense.
Nunes, according to CNN, was spotted at the National Security Council offices of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (the only secure room on the grounds outside of the White House Situation Room). “To review classified files without breaking the law, Nunes would have needed to do so at a secure facility,” the Washington Post reported
Still, as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, he would have had access to plenty of secure space in the U.S. Capitol building — space designated for the use of the legislative branch. This would be akin to him claiming he traveled to the Supreme Court building because he need to use their phone.
What’s more, anyone who has ever visited the White House grounds, which also include the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, would know that one cannot simply drop by without being noticed. A cadre of White House security officers at each gate carefully screen all visitors to make sure they have an appointment, verify they are okay to admit, and keep logs of who comes in. (The Trump administration has not yet followed the Obama administration’s precedent of making these logs public). The notion that he visited without the White House knowing would seemingly only be possible if the Secret Service failed to notice him sneaking into the grounds.
A spokesman for Nunes on Monday may have also revealed that his “source” was also present on the White House grounds — again, indicating that he or she was either an administration staffer or a visitor approved by the administration to be on the grounds.
On Friday, Nunes acknowledged that he had made his accusations without a clear understanding of what the documents he had reviewed showed. Asked if anyone from the Trump administration had provided the materials to Nunes or tipped him off to them, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he could not rule it out and was “not aware of where he got the documents from.”