Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-CA), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters Friday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort contacted the committee to arrange for him to speak with the panel’s members concerning allegations of ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
“We thank Manafort for volunteering,” said Nunes, who said he was uncomfortable with calling American citizens to testify to the committee merely because their name appeared in the media from leaked intelligence reports. The chairman said that would be neo-McCarthyism.
Manafort’s lawyers are working out the details with the committee’s lawyers, he said. Manafort is a political consultant and lobbyist who has worked with Russian business interests and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. These connections are part of the campaign by Democrats to link President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The chairman said in a Wednesday press briefing that he saw evidence that under President Barack Obama legitimate intelligence collection came in contact with members of the Trump team and that unlike the normal practice, their names were “unmasked” and shared widely in reports. In Friday’s press briefing, Nunes said he had been given the heads-up that this unmasking of un-targeted Americans was happening.
The congressman said he continues to find evidence of unmasking that is unrelated to the actual intelligence being collected. “I don’t know who was asking for them to be unmasked, I just know there are more.”
Nunes said he encourages other people with information about surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team to come forward.
“We don’t talk about sources at this committee,” he said. “We want more people to come forward. The good thing is we have continued to have people come forward voluntarily to this committee and we want to continue that–that will not happen if we tell you who sources.”
The chairman said in addition to the Manafort announcement, the committee is recalling Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers to testify again.
“There are probably questions that Director Comey and Admiral Rogers could not answer in a public setting, but it is necessary to get them both back down here before we move on to other interviews.” Comey and Rogers testified in a public hearing before the committee Monday about surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team.
The committee is also still in the process of receiving documents from the NSA pertaining to a formal request by Nunes and the committee’s ranking Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff. The documents had been due March 15, Nunes said.
“I don’t expect the entirety of everything that we need today, so I hope by next week we will have a better accounting of what the NSA is able to provide us,” he explained.