Ranking House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) isn’t being distracted by President Trump’s diversions on the Russia scandal. Schiff blew Trump’s latest attempt to throw Congress off his trail to bits with the facts about intelligence collection.
In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, the ranking House Intelligence Committee member said:
If the White House had any concerns over these documents, or any other documents, they should have provided them to our committee weeks ago. Additionally, the White House has yet to explain why it attempted to conceal its role in the compilation of these materials. The White House is not a whistleblower and nothing that I was shown justifies such duplicitous conduct.
With respect to the issue of incidental collection, it is important for people to understand some basic facts:
First, whenever we are doing lawful surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence and the targets even mention U.S. persons or businesses, that can be considered “incidental collection.” Of course, incidental collection can also occur when a foreign party we are lawfully collecting on calls or writes to a U.S. person. Some incidental collection is unavoidable, and as long as proper procedures are being followed, it is fully lawful. It does not constitute either wiretapping or surveillance of Americans.
Second, when that incidental collection is included in an intelligence report, the names of the U.S. persons are masked. It may be possible, at times, to guess who the identities are even though they are masked. This, too, is neither uncommon nor improper. When it is necessary to unmask a name to understand the significance of the communication, there is a process for doing so, which is also lawful. Our committee routinely reviews whether our intelligence agencies are properly masking names and unmasking them as appropriate.
It’s those basic facts that President Trump and the Republican Party don’t want people to understand. Trump and the Republicans are intentionally and falsely equating incidental collection and legal unmasking with spying and leaking. It is the classic Republican tactic of making something legal that their opponents did look illegal to hide their own potentially illegal behavior.
Rep. Schiff was correct. There is a lot of shady behavior on the part of the Trump White House and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, but no one is fooling Schiff.
President Trump’s worst nightmare is an intelligent and dogged prosecutor.
The more the White House tries to muddy the waters, the harder Adam Schiff comes after the facts about Trump and Russia.