Top Republicans have long been pushing for answers as to why several Trump associates were named in foreign surveillance reports under former President Barack Obama’s administration. On Wednesday, a series of subpoenas were issued in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, pertaining specifically to Trump insiders Michael Cohen and disgraced National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said subpoenas “seek information on requests” for the unmasking of several Trump confidantes by Susan Rice, former national security adviser under President Obama.
The House Intelligence Committee, however, didn’t provide details regarding the subpoenas directed toward the intelligence agencies.
Reps. Adam Schiff and Mike Conaway told the Journal:
‘As part of our ongoing investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 campaign, today we approved subpoenas for several individuals for testimony, personal documents and business records. We hope and expect that anyone called to testify or provide documents will comply with that request, so that we may gain all the information within the scope of our investigation. We will continue to pursue this investigation wherever the facts may lead.’
The problem, it seems, lies in the fact that Democrats on the committee were likely unaware that these subpoenas were issued.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes previously stated that he would recuse himself from the probe into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia after his handling of the investigation sparked ethics concerns from Democrats on the committee.
On May 19, however, Nunes changed his tune and announced that he’d remain active in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
A committee aide told the Journal:
‘If the reports are accurate, subpoenas related to the ‘unmasking’ issue would have been sent by Chairman Nunes acting separately from the Committee’s Russia investigation. This action would have been taken without the Minority’s agreement. Any prior requests for information would have been undertaken without the Minority’s knowledge.’
Rep. Nunes "stepped aside" from panel's Russia probe in early Apr, but on May 19 he said he'll remain an active chair. This is proof of that https://t.co/V8D2aCQ91a
— Kevin Rincon (@KevRincon) May 31, 2017
House Intel subpoenas related to unmasking came from Chairman Nunes unilaterally, w/o Dem knowledge, per source.
— Ben Siegel (@benyc) May 31, 2017
President Trump made headlines not long ago with his unsubstantiated claim that Obama wiretapped his Trump Tower phones during the 2016 presidential election. He later tried to defend the allegation by saying former National Security Adviser Susan Rice likely committed a crime by seeking to ‘unmask’ the identities of Trump confidantes involved in surveillance of foreign officials by U.S. spy agencies.
With his decision to remain active in the investigation, Nunes still has the power to issue subpoenas, and only has to consult minority Democrats on the committee in order to do so.
Committee rules give Nunes broad power … only has to "consult" minority … altho unmasking as an issue has some support among Rs on panel
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) May 31, 2017
Given the fact that Nunes has been a Trump supporter from the get-go, his decision to reverse course and remain active in the investigation makes perfect sense.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Win McNamee.