The GOP chairman of the House panel exploring possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign apologized in private to his Democratic colleagues Thursday for his controversial decision to brief President Trump before them on new information, while CNN is out with a potentially big development. Here's a look at developments:
- “It was a judgment call on my part,” Rep. Devin Nunes told reporters Thursday about his decision to call a news conference, then visit the White House, to assert that communications of Trump associates may have been picked up "incidentally" in surveillance. Behind closed doors, he apologized to angry Democrats for the move, reports the Guardian.
- The Lawfare blog does a deep dive into that Nunes news conference here, finding that what he's alleging is a "bit opaque."
- The larger development comes via CNN, which reports that the FBI is investigating whether Trump associates communicated with Russian operatives during the campaign to coordinate the release of information hackers stole from Democrats. The agency is looking at travel, business, and phone records, and other accounts of meetings, per the report, which notes that the information is so far "not conclusive." Read it in full here.
- A post at Vox sees the CNN story as "stunning" if true because "it is the first such report suggesting that the FBI may have credible information—say, an account of a meeting where collusion was discussed, to give one wholly hypothetical example—of a possible Trump campaign-Russia plot against Hillary Clinton." Read the assessment here.
- When asked by Chuck Todd of NBC News whether the evidence of collusion was circumstantial, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel responded, "I can't go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now." That's further than Adam Schiff would go just last weekend, but things seem to have changed. "There is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation," Schiff said.
- Schiff separately lashed out at Nunes for his Wednesday press conference, accusing him of being a "surrogate" of the president instead an independent panel chairman. The public sniping prompted Sen. John McCain to call for a special committee to step in to investigate the alleged Russian ties because the House panel has "lost the credibility to handle this alone," per Politico.
- Trump, meanwhile, tweets that news accounts of what's going on are "totally biased and fake."
- Breitbart has a post with "four major holes" on the allegations Schiff made against Trump at FBI chief James Comey's hearing, including his reliance on a "discredited" former British intelligence official. Read it here.
(Trump found some vindication
in the Nunes news conference.)