Demand for an independent commission to investigate the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials expanded to a tentative roar after the House Intelligence Committee chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) scurried to the White House to share the latest finding with the ultimate object of the investigation.
Oh, and by the way, he spoke to the press about it even before going to the White House, and then again on the way out. And all of this before he even mentioned this bombshell to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff.
It was a stupid thing to do on so many counts, not least of which are that: (1) he may have revealed classified information to the media; (2) he proved this is not a non-partisan investigation and thus turned Schiff from an ally to, at a minimum, a wary observer; (3) he violated basic rules of investigation by sneaking results to the one you're investigating; and (4) he lost control of his investigation by destroying his credibility and thus the credibility of whatever outcome the committee reaches.
Here's the story -- which really isn't anything very much in and of itself. An unnamed person has showed Nunes some transcripts of legally obtained surveillance that includes conversations with some Trump campaign or transition associates, or else those people are talked about in the conversations.
That's it. He says there is no connection to Russia; hence, Nunes said it had nothing to do with the committee's investigation, and that's why he didn't need to tell Schiff about it. Why did he need to tell the president?
Because Trump has (my hunch) been hounding Nunes to find something -- anything!! -- to vindicate his huge mistake in claiming that Obama "tapped my wires." This apparently is the closest they've come up with to show Trump people caught on surveillance.
What's clear, however, is that this does not show Trump people being tapped. In fact, Nunes himself says it came from a legal FISA warrant of a foreign national under surveillance.
He has some information he claims was given to him by an unnamed person that shows that some unnamed members of the Trump transition team were heard on a wire tap or were spoken about by people being surveilled. What that means apparently is that a legally obtained FISA warrant had allowed a tap on someone's phone and that a member of the Trump team had been talking with the person under surveillance -- or else someone on the Trump team was mentioned by others in conversation on that phone.
What Nunes then did was to rush to the White House to brief President Trump. Supposedly because it's the kind of thing Trump was desperate to find that he could then spin into saying: "Look, I was right. My wires were tapped."
I have my own speculation that the Trump White House was the source of what the "unnamed person" sent to Nunes -- but that's just icing on the cake.
It's not working. At least the liberal media and Schiff are exposing this for what it is: an utter shattering of any sense of impartiality with which Chairman Nunes can conduct this investigation. It raises the outcry for an independent, non-partisan special investigative committee.
It also makes Nunes look stupid as well as partisan. This just is not done. Long-experienced observers of Congress say they have never seen anything like this. Here's my guess. Trump was pulling a Dick Cheney -- as when Cheney kept hounding the CIA to come up with the "evidence" he wanted to justify invading Iraq. I'm suggesting that Trump has been hounding Nunes to find something he can use to prove he or his team have been under surveillance -- just anything to prove Trump was right and help him get out of the corner he painted himself into.
Trump is such an amateur trying to play in this high level of politics. This may be the best evidence that Manafort is not still advising him. He would have done a much better job than that.
Of course, all this got completely swamped Friday, when the Republican's disasterously had to pull their ill-fated repeal/replace health care bill. But we'll hear about this again. Everything is going to get greater scrutiny now that the Republicans have had such a monumental loss that questions their competence in governing.