House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' story about where he got the information about Trump and/or his associates being caught on a surveillance wiretap just become less and less believable.
Remember that several weeks ago, Trump made the incredible claim that Obama had ordered his phones to be wiretapped before he left office. There was nothing to support this, but Trump kept saying that some evidence would emerge in a couple of weeks.
Then last week, Nunes claims he went to a secure location on the White House grounds, to view the information that was said to show one or more Trump associate (or Trump himself) being part of, or mentioned in, a conversation that was picked up inadvertently through a legal VISA warrant tap. This most likely would mean that some Trump person was talking to a foreign national who was being surveilled -- although, when that happens, the name is supposed to be blocked to protect a citizen's privacy.
Nunes rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump, who said he felt somewhat vindicated in his earlier claim.
To my thinking, this follows the pattern of all the other Trump "cover-up" behavior. Everything is just so coincidental as to be unbelievable in the aggregate. The only way this story makes sense is that the information is something either found, or created, by the Trump team itself and then shown by them to Nunes. It has the sloppy, haphazard, cover-up earmarks.
Here are the salient facts that support this. Thanks to Sam Stein and Jessica Schulberg of Huffington Post for their reporting on this explanation.
1. The visit to the White House grounds. His claim he had gone alone and that nobody saw him is flatly unbelievable. Even a congressman does not have free access to roam about the White House grounds, and particularly to visit the sensitive information facility, unescorted or cleared by the White House.
Former communications staffer for the National Security Council, Ned Price, says none of this could have been done without a White House staffer involved in every step: walking into the White House "compound," getting into the secure information facility, being given computer access. "Did he just show up and say, 'Let me in'? It defies credulity."
2. Stein and Schulberg report that "Nunes' office has confirmed that [his] allegations are based on reports that came from the White House. The documents were 'executive branch documents that have not been provided to Congress.'" I assume the "documents" referred to are the mysterious "information" Nunes claims to have been shown. This would then suggest that someone under Trump's control is the mystery person who supposedly showed Nunes the information.
3. Why would Nunes still, one week later, not share the identity of this person with ranking member Adam Schiff? He is fully cleared to received any secret briefings. An unnamed Republican congressman told the reporters that Nunes' behavior makes it look like "somebody who's in essence working for the administration."
Until proven otherwise, my bets are on collusion -- between Russia and Trump and between Trump and Nunes.
There is another related matter involving Nunes. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who decided that the DoJ would not defend Trump's first travel ban, was scheduled to testify at Nunes' open committee hearing on Tuesday, two days ago. She had written to the White House to inform them that her testimony would likely contradict statements made by some White House officials. Her testimony would have dealt with the investigative facts she had supplied the White House counsel that led to NSA Director Michael Flynn's firing three weeks later over having lied about the extent of his connections with Russia. She was informed, in writing, that this could involve violation of presidential communications privilege, although the White House did not tell her not to testify.
The White House insisted that they in no way tried to interfere with her testimony; rather, according to Sean Spicer, they were "looking forward to it." No need to interfere, of course. Just pull some puppet strings. Sally Yates sent her letter last Thursday. On Friday, Rep. Nunes abruptly cancelled the hearing.
Go figure. Connect the dots.