Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) made headlines last month when he declared to the press that he had seen evidence that backed up President Trump’s claims about being surveilled by the Obama Administration.
While Nunes originally received a lot of attention for his announcement — and a lot of backlash, primarily from members of the House Intelligence Committee who were concerned that they had not seen the same evidence — reports have since come out showing that what he saw was not nearly as incriminating as he made it out to be.
Shortly after Nunes’s attempt to distract from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, Trump and his allies tried to incriminate President Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, saying that she had ordered the unmasking of individuals connected to Trump who were surveilled.
Once again, this “scandal” turned out to be much ado about nothing. Bloomberg, the outlet that originally reported the story, even said that the news about Rice does nothing to “vindicate” Trump.
On Tuesday, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza argued that the real scandal is not the decisions that Susan Rice made as Obama’s national security adviser, but the lengths that Trump and Nunes have gone to to try and create a scandal where there is none.
‘It is now clear that the scandal was not Rice’s normal review of the intelligence reports but the coordinated effort between the Trump Administration and Nunes to sift through classified information and computer logs that recorded Rice’s unmasking requests, and then leak a highly misleading characterization of those documents, all in an apparent effort to turn Rice, a longtime target of Republicans, into the face of alleged spying against Trump. It was a series of lies to manufacture a fake scandal.’
Lizza also interviewed intelligence officials familiar with the binder of intercepts that Trump and Nunes have used to try and make a case against the Obama administration — one has read the entire binder, and the other has been briefed on its contents. In response to questions about the information, one intelligence official told Lizza about the information, “there’s absolutely nothing there.”
The intelligence official also told Lizza that the general consensus among the intelligence community is that, after Trump claimed that he was surveilled by President Obama, the White House scrambled to work backwards and find some kind of evidence to support his tweets.
According to the official, the White House planned to “mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was surveilled.” They went on to say about this plan:
‘I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.’
Although Rep. Nunes chose to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, with a Republican-controlled Congress, it seems safe to say we have not heard the last about the President’s baseless claims.
The intelligence official even told Lizza that congressional Republicans are more interested in questioning former Obama staffers than they are in looking into potentially corrupt members of Trump’s campaign.
It’s going to take a long time to get to the bottom of this.
Read Lizza’s full report here.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images.