CNN’s Don Lemon blasted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for acting like “a shill for the White House” when he told Donald Trump and reporters on Wednesday that the president may have been “incidentally” surveilled by intelligence agencies.
Former Rep. Jack Kingston tried to argue that Nunes was justified in going directly to the president with information about incidental surveillance on individuals connected with the Trump transition team–prior to notifying fellow members of the House Intelligence Committee.
The crux of Kingston’s argument was that Nunes and ranking House Intel member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) were provided a closed-door briefing by FBI Director James Comey on the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and thus know more about the investigation than the public.
“How does that justify what he did today?” and incredulous Ryan Lizza asked Kingston.
“As someone on the transition team, someone trying to lead a nonpartisan investigation, in made [Nunes] look like a shill for the White House,” Lemon said.
Earlier in the segment, exasperated panel members tried in vain to explain how Nunes’ announcement does not validate Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama, with former CIA analyst Phillip Mudd at one point burying his head in his hands in frustration.
“It doesn’t vindicate him,” host Don Lemon began. “And I keep hearing this and it infuriates me”
Kingston attempted to argue that Nunes confirmed the Trump transition team was “being spied on” by the government with his statement on Wednesday. This prompted outrage on the panel.
“I don’t know why this is so hard,” Kristen Powers said, as Mudd threw his hands in the air.
“Mr. Mudd, can you please explain this people, it’s not that difficult,” Lemon said to the former CIA analyst.
“Do you mind if I break down into tears first?” Mudd quipped, before clarifying difference between incidental surveillance and government spying.
After a heated back and forth, Lizza jumped in with some perspective.
“Can we just stand back a second and look at the absurdity of the chairman of the house intelligence committee going to the White House and making a public statement and making all of this public today?” he asked. :This is not how you conduct an investigation.”
“What about the head of the FBI going public with all of the stuff he’s been doing, frankly starting with Hillary Clinton,” Kingston replied.
“Now you’re upset about that?” Powers and other panel members asked, amused, as Lizza pointed out that the difference is Nunes went directly to the White House, which is, in fact, “the subject of the investigation!”
Watch the video below, via CNN: