The White House will soon make available to Congress controversial intelligence reports that it has portrayed as evidence of surveillance abuses by the Obama administration, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.
The documents will be made available to the full House and Senate Intelligence panels, Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. The California Democrat called the move “long overdue and follows an inexplicable series of events in which the White House played a role in selectively and surreptitiously providing the documents to our chairman.”
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Schiff visited the White House on Friday to view the classified documents, which until then had been made available only to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
Nunes set off a firestorm last month when he announced he had been shown evidence by an unnamed source that Trump transition aides might have been improperly monitored following November’s presidential election. He went to the White House later that day to brief President Donald Trump on what he had seen.
It was later revealed that Nunes had seen the materials during a late-night trip to the White House grounds and that his sources were high-ranking White House officials — leading Democrats to question why he needed to brief Trump on materials provided to him by some of the president’s top national security aides.
“If the White House had any concerns over these documents, or any other documents, they should have provided them to our committee weeks ago,” Schiff said in his statement. “Additionally, the White House has yet to explain why it attempted to conceal its role in the compilation of these materials. The White House is not a whistleblower and nothing that I was shown justifies such duplicitous conduct.”
He said he would not comment on the content of the materials, noting they are classified.
The Senate Intelligence Committee responded to an invitation by the White House last week for its chairman and ranking member to come view the documents by asking that the documents instead be delivered to a secure location in the Capitol.
In his statement, Schiff also blasted any attempt to conflate the possible incidental collection of materials on Trump transition aides with what Trump described in a Tweet last month as an order by President Barack Obama to wiretap Trump Tower.
Trump’s wiretap claim has since been debunked by FBI Director James Comey and other officials.
“Whenever we are doing lawful surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence and the targets even mention U.S. persons or businesses, that can be considered ‘incidental collection,’” Schiff said. “Of course, incidental collection can also occur when a foreign party we are lawfully collecting on calls or writes to a U.S. person. Some incidental collection is unavoidable, and as long as proper procedures are being followed, it is fully lawful. It does not constitute either wiretapping or surveillance of Americans.”