Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused the White House and Devin Nunes, his Republican counterpart and the Chair of the House Intel Committee, of conspiring to divert attention from Moscow’s actions. Schiff said Nunes had colluded with Trump as part of a White House ploy, in an “attempt to distract” the public from links between Trump and Russian meddling.
Schiff said on CNN’s State of the Union that Nunes and the White House had made an “effort to point the Congress in other directions, to basically say, ‘Don’t look at me, don’t look at Russia, there’s nothing to see here’.”
“It certainly is an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House's hand. The question is, of course, why? And I think the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in other directions, basically say, ‘Don't look at me, don't look at Russia, there is nothing to see here,’” Schiff said.
Schiff also slammed Nunes for the way in which he reviewed the source’s intelligence reports. “It doesn't need to be done, you know, by night through stealth at the White House. The only reason to do that, again, is if you want to hide where these materials are really coming from and who is behind it,” the Democratic lawmaker said, adding that both the Senate and House intelligence committees should be able to review the documents.
Schiff on Friday viewed the documents, telling Tapper on Sunday some red flags were raised. “First, the deputy assistant to the White House informed me when I went to see them that these are exactly the same materials that were shown to the chairman. Now, this is a very interesting point. How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman, if the White House wasn't aware what the chairman was being shown?” Schiff asked.
“And the second point was also made to me. And this is -- I think was also underscored by Sean Spicer -- and that is, it was told to me by the deputy assistant that these materials were produced in the ordinary course of business,” Schiff added.
That said, Schiff largely ignored to discuss the essence of the docs, and whether they confirmed what Nunes said, namely that Trump had indeed been the subject of surveillance; instead reverting back to the narrative that the events detracted from his priority: investigating Russia’s interference in the election.
“I think part of the reason why that was done is this effort to deflect attention from the Russia investigation, to raise other issues, to effectively create a cloud through which the public cannot see what is at stake here. And what is at stake here is a foreign intervention in our election, a very serious issue about whether U.S. persons were involved, an investigation that is being conducted by the FBI into possible coordination with the Trump campaign,” Schiff said.
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Meanwhile, Trump over the weekend continued to seize on Nunes’s original allegation that the identities of Americans caught up in the surveillance had been improperly “unmasked” by US officials, for internal use during the Obama presidency. “If this is true, does not get much bigger,” Trump said on Twitter. “Would be sad for US” On Sunday he added: “The real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING! Find the leakers.”
The real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING! Find the leakers.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2017
Schiff in turn responded by saying that “alarm bells” should go off whenever President Trump calls something “fake”: “I would tell people, whenever they see the president use the word 'fake,' it ought to set off alarm bells,” Schiff told CNN's Jake Tapper.
Schiff added that the the White House is trying to mislead the country into believing there is no connection between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates, which - again - is an odd thing to say for the House Intel Committee member who complains that he is unable to conclude his probe due to distractions by Trump, unless of course he has decided what the conclusion of the "investigation" will be ahead of time.
And so, despite the FBI admitting on several occasions that there does not appear to be any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, the media circuit continues to be wrapped tighly around this narrative which serves as the true public distraction, and as a strawman foil to accuse anyone who is, or voted against Hillary Clinton/the establishment - now including supporters of Bernie Sanders - of being "influenced" by Putin, in what has become the biggest US witch hunt since Joe McCarthy.