Adding to the uproar over Rep. Devin Nunes’ disclosure that the communications of President Trump and his transition team may have been intercepted by American intelligence or law enforcement agents, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Thursday described Nunes’ actions as “very disturbing.”
Nunes, the California Republican who heads the House intelligence committee, called a press conference Wednesday to announce that he had informed the White House that Trump transition communications may have been subject to “incidental collection” in the course of surveillance of other targets, possibly foreign. Nunes faced severe criticism from both sides of the aisle for making the information available to the press and the White House before briefing other members of his own committee, which is currently investigating suspicions of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Speaking on NBC’s “Today” Thursday, McCain said Nunes’ action was unprecedented.
“I have not seen anything like it, and it’s very disturbing.”
McCain, who serves on the intelligence committee in the Senate, touted the “good working relationship” between the Republican and Democratic members there, and lamented the growing rift between Nunes and Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member on the House committee.
“Intelligence committees and armed services committees always work in a bipartisan fashion, and I’m sorry to see what’s happened over there,” McCain said.
Indeed, after Nunes’ press conference, Schiff had strong words for the committee chairman, saying, “The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both.”
After Trump was briefed by Nunes, the president told reporters he felt “somewhat” vindicated by the new information. The president has repeatedly claimed, with no evidence, that former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance of his campaign before the election. Asked if Trump’s sentiment was warranted, McCain was cautious.
“I think the president obviously can express his views and emotions, but nothing has changed since the director of the FBI said that there was no evidence that Trump Tower had been ‘wiretapped,’” McCain said.
“That has not been refuted.”
Still, McCain maintained that the Trump-Russia saga was likely to play out for some time.
“I’ve been around this town long enough to know, when there’s something of these consequences, this enormity, there’s always additional information that comes out before it’s concluded,” he said.
“There’s more to come.”