Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
Local | By Vivian Poole

Trump, after House Panel Subpoenas, Backs Inquiry Into Obama Administration

In addition, the committee's Republican chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, who had recused himself from the panel's Russian Federation investigation, also approved subpoenas to the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency for information relating to the "unmasking" of the names of Trump campaign advisers inadvertently picked up in top-secret foreign communications intercepts.

Three others were issued to the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency seeking information on requests that former Obama administration officials made to unmask the identities of Americans named in intelligence reports.

The subpoenas sent to government agencies were related to Trump's complaints that Obama administration officials had asked, for political reasons, to be told the names of Trump associates documented in intelligence reports.

Nunes stepped down from leading the panel's Russian Federation investigation in April, after the House Ethics Committee launched its own investigation into allegations Nunes mishandled classified documents.

A spokeswoman for Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the panel "welcomes the testimony of former Director Comey, but does not have an announcement to make at this time".

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is violating his own recusal amid the panel's investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged Friday.

"There is no substance to this, so the only way to look at it is as an attempt to distract the headlines and the public from Comey's public testimony and Mueller's investigation, both of which are serious", said one of the US officials familiar with the information Nunes subpoenaed.

Flynn also declined the Senate intelligence committee's request for an interview, and on May 22 rejected their subpoena for documents, citing the Fifth Amendment constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

The subpoenas were announced as the special counsel overseeing the government's investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation has approved former FBI Director James Comey to testify before the Senate intelligence committee, according to a Comey associate.

Nunes, who would have had to sign off on any committee requests to reveal the identities of USA persons mentioned in intelligence reports, called unmaskings "violations of Americans' civil liberties" last week. Nunes called the accusations that he improperly shared classified information with the White House "entirely false".

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"These were sent out unilaterally by the chairman", Schiff added, "and they are part of the White House's desire to shift the attention away from the Russian Federation probe and onto the attention of unmasking". Ahead of the presidential poll, thousands of hacked emails of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, and the Democratic National Committee were leaked.

Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, replied to Trump's tweet, calling it a "pathetic distraction".

It is possible that the Trump White House could try to raise executive privilege claims in arguing that any conversations with the president could not be discussed publicly.

Nunes did not consult with committee Democrats before issuing the subpoenas, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who's the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

But on Fox News' Special Report Thursday evening, James Rosen reported that "Schiff's staff later acknowledged to Fox News that they had been informed of the unmasking subpoenas on Tuesday - some 24 hours before their issuance".

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