The leaders of the House intelligence panel issued emphatically different statements Sunday on President Donald Trump’s allegations Saturday that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his presidential campaign.
Republican Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said the House Permanent Select Committee would look into Trump’s assertions as part of its larger investigation into Russian interference in the election process.
“One of the focus points of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is the U.S. government’s response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement. “As such, the Committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it.”
Nunes’ statement followed one by fellow California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the panel.
Schiff’s focus was on Trump’s allegations as being beneath the dignity of his office. Trump’s allegations were offered Saturday via Twitter without attribution or elaboration; the president accused his predecessor of “McCarthyism” and said the scandal was equivalent to “Nixon/Watergate.”
“Today, it became all the more clear that President Trump’s claim that he was illegally wire-tapped by President Obama was based on little more than Breitbart or other conspiracy-based news,” Schiff said in his statement.
“For a President of the United States to make such an incendiary charge — and one that discredits our democracy in the eyes of the world — is as destructive as it was baseless,” he added.
Schiff also circled back to his concerns that FBI Director James Comey was not being forthright with the House investigation about Russian interference in the 2016 elections or other related matters.
“If the Administration truly believes that President Obama illegally eavesdropped on the Trump campaign and wants our committee to investigate the matter,” Schiff said, “they should join my call on Director Comey to answer any question put to him that is pertinent to the Russia investigation.”