A panel discussion on possible Russian collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign grew heated on CNN Sunday morning after embattled House Intelligence Committee head Devin Nunes (R-CA) was compared to bumbling cinema spy Austin Powers.
Speaking with State of the Union host Jake Tapper, former House Intelligence Committee head Mike Rogers (R-MI) said that congressional committees should stay out of the way while the FBI investigates reported ties between Russia and Trump staffers.
“The fact that the Russians are engaged in information operations here and around the world with our allies is a serious matter. If they could help the public understand their intentions and their capabilities, this would go a long way in the public,” Rogers explained. “I mean, this is when you want your government to be a lot more like James Bond than you do Austin Powers. The problem here is it looks like the latter.”
Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden immediately jumped and linked Nunes to the fictional spy.
“Speaking of Austin Powers, Devin Nunes has actually been part of the problem,” Tanden offered. “What you’re saying is that we shouldn’t have this public discussion, and yet he has been out in front of reporters and it turns out that he misled a lot of reporters over the last couple of weeks and that is another reason people think Republicans, the House Intelligence Committee, should not be holding this.”
Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) cut off Tanden, saying, “Whistleblowers saying Trump did this and that with the Russians. Whistleblowers said we have this information that incidental collection has captured U.S. citizens.”
“What was the whistleblower?” Tanden shot back. “He [Nunes] went to the White House and got the information from the White House staffers.”
“Which is routine when you get classified information, that is where you get it,” Lewis countered.
“Are you calling the White House staff who are hired by the president whistleblowers? Is that what you’re saying?” a baffled Tanden replied.
“I’m saying Nunes got information, and it’s not proven, from a former Obama aide who said we had to collect the intelligence before Trump got in,” Lewis asserted.
“That is false! What you’re saying does not make sense,” an exasperated Tanden blurted before noting that Nunes had previously stated that he later went to the White House to brief the president on what he had seen.
“Devin Nunes went to the White House and got information from three staffers and that is what he claimed was his information,” Tanden lectured Lewis. “I don’t know why they couldn’t brief the president directly themselves.”
Watch the video below via CNN: