Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, challenged the White House to declassify documents cited by the president as proof of a wiretap.
Schiff issued a statement Tuesday afternoon pushing back on the “innuendo flying about incidental collection, unmasking, and surveillance” after White House officials were revealed as the sources of classified documents provided to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the committee’s Republican chairman.
“If the White House had any concerns over these documents, or any other documents, they should have provided them to our committee weeks ago,” Schiff said. “Additionally, the White House has yet to explain why it attempted to conceal its role in the compilation of these materials. The White House is not a whistleblower and nothing I was shown justifies such duplicitous conduct.”
Schiff said he has seen the documents Nunes received from Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a national security lawyer at the White House Counsel’s Office and former Nunes employee.
Those documents will be made available to the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees, he said.
“I cannot comment on the content of these materials or any other classified documents, and nothing should be inferred from the fact that I am treating classified materials the way they should be treated — by refusing to comment on them,” Schiff said. “Only the Administration has the power to declassify the information and make it available to the public.”
Schiff explained how incidental collection occurred during routine surveillance, and how certain officials could lawfully request the unmasking of individuals caught up in such investigations.
“Some incidental collection is unavoidable, and as long as proper procedures are being followed, it is fully lawful,” Schiff said. “It does not constitute either wiretapping or surveillance of Americans.”
Schiff said the intelligence committee is responsible for ensuring that proper unmasking procedures are being followed, and the committee has asked agencies last month to provide documents related to that process for review.
“We have been reviewing documents pursuant to that request, and we will be reviewing those documents to determine compliance with appropriate procedures,” he said.