James Rosen of Fox News reports that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee will be presented with “smoking gun” evidence that “the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump.”
According to the source for Rosen’s report, this evidence will come from the National Security Agency, which is supposed to produce documents for the House Intelligence Committee by Friday. It is expected to take a week or so for congressional investigators to assess these materials.
The NSA material is said to be even more compelling than the evidence that prompted committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to announce on Wednesday that “incidental” surveillance of the Trump transition team was conducted by the intelligence community.
Rosen’s report has a few more interesting developments in the aftermath of Nunes’ announcement:
Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is also sympathetic to the effort to determine, with documentary evidence, the extent of any alleged Obama administration spying on the Trump team, sources said.
Because so much criticism has been leveled at the media for basing reports hostile to the Trump administration on anonymous sources of uncertain motivation, it should be duly noted that the Fox News report relies heavily upon a single source, without a single clue to this person’s identity or position. It’s not clear if this individual is connected to the intelligence community, or to the House Intelligence Committee.
The nature of the NSA’s “smoking gun” information is also left to the reader’s imagination. In fact, it’s described as “potential smoking gun” information.
It should also be noted that on Thursday, a spokesperson for Nunes said the chairman is waiting to see “all the documents he requested” from intelligence agencies before he “knows for sure” what surveillance of the transition team or President-elect Trump was conducted.
Perhaps the material coming from the NSA will positively establish which, if any, Trump transition team members were caught up in the “incidental surveillance” Nunes described on Wednesday.
An unnamed intelligence official speculated to ABC News that surveillance on foreign officials might have caught them “talking about Trump transition team members, as opposed to transition team members participating directly in the communications.” The NSA would seem to be the agency most likely to possess documentation resolving that question.