So the NY Times did some digging and identified GOP Rep. Devin Nunes's White House sources, meaning at this point we now have a direct link between the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the regime he's supposed to be investigating.
A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.
The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.
Mr. Nunes has also been faulted by his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with President Trump before consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.
The congressman has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe coming to the committee with sensitive information. He first disclosed the existence of the intelligence reports on March 22, and in his public comments he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.
Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
Nunes took intelligence information from the White House and leaked it in order to blow a hole in the investigation. What he forgot was that he was in over his head from minute one on this, and when he tried to backtrack, realizing how screwed he was, he just made it worse.
His final effort was to refuse to identify his sources, as if journalists smelling blood would simply drop the story in the name of solidarity with having to deal with confidential information.
No such luck, as the Times burned him and his sources this afternoon.
Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials said that earlier this month, shortly after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter about being wiretapped on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.
Officials said the reports consisted primarily of ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how they were trying to develop contacts within Mr. Trump’s family and inner circle in advance of his inauguration.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the intelligence, and to avoid angering Mr. Cohen-Watnick and Mr. Ellis. Officials say that Mr. Cohen-Watnick has been reviewing the reports from his fourth-floor office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the National Security Counsel is based.
Trump's wiretap paranoia became a "will anyone rid me of this troublesome Obama" moment, and it looks like Cohen-Watnick stepped up. He blabbed to Nunes, who being a Trump campaign surrogate, was trustworthy.
And then Nunes told the world, expecting that his "revelations" would sink the previous president and prove Trump was somehow being stalked. Only, well, Nunes isn't that bright. He got info from the White House...in order to brief the White House.
Which means Nunes was given the information in order to provide cover for Trump, period. He then lied about it, badly. He's now been completely busted for it, because if there's one thing Washington DC cannot abide, it's a terrible liar in a position of power.
Now, the real fun begins. The bigger story remains that Trump and his campaign were picked up by FISA surveillance because they were talking to suspected foreign agents that the NSA wanted to keep an eye on, both before and after the election.
That part hasn't changed. But we now know to what ridiculous lengths Trump will go in order to try to stonewall us from finding out why they had these conversations, and what was said. Nunes figured this double back was going to clear Trump.
Instead it's ended up burying Nunes at the very least.