A Republican lawmaker has said that the intelligence agencies swept up in an “incidental collection” the post-election communications of Donald Trump’s team
Devin Nunes, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that he was “concerned” whether this amounts to spying on the team. Mr. Nunes had said earlier that there was “no evidence” of collusion in Trump-Russia claims.
He said the collection was “widely disseminated” in intelligence reports.
He also stated that the collection was brought to his attention – legally – by an unnamed source and it appears that the information had been collected legally.
It is believed that the collection is not linked to an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged links between Russian officials and Trump team during the election campaign.
Mr. Nunes said that the information was collected mainly in November, December, and January. He said:
“It is possible Mr. Trump’s own communications were collected. Details about US persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports.”
Mr. Nunes said that he had told House Speaker Paul Ryan about the revelations and would inform the White House later on Wednesday.
White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer described the claim as a “startling revelation” and said that there were a lot of questions that need to be asked.
“How many times was one individual followed? Did their names get unmasked and why?”
He said that the names of the U.S. citizens under such surveillance should have been protected. “We don’t know what he’s (David Nunes) coming up here to explain and share,” the press secretary added while explaining that he was unaware what Mr. Nunes had to say.
It is still unclear whether the monitoring reported by Mr. Nunes took place in the Trump Tower.
Mr. Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama in the Trump Tower during the presidential race.
So far, there’s no evidence to prove the accusations.
An FBI investigation and two congressional inquiries are underway in which Trump’s campaign advisers are being scrutinized.
Investigators are probing whether the Trump campaign team or any of its associates coordinated with Russia to meddle in the 2016 Presidential election campaign to damage Hillary Clinton.