March 28, 2017 — CREW, along with Democracy 21 and CREW Board Members Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) requesting that it conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether Representative Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, disclosed classified information to the public on March 22, 2017 in violation of House ethics rules.
According to published reports, Rep. Nunes on March 22, 2017 said that “American intelligence agencies monitoring foreign officials may have ‘incidentally’ picked up communications if [President] Trump transition team members.” Rep. Nunes did not disclose the source for his information.
A report in Politico on March 23 stated:
On Wednesday, Nunes held a news conference and then briefs Trump on evidence had been shown by a “source” that, following November’s election, Trump transition team members were caught up in incidental surveillance of foreign targets. He said the identities of some of these transition team members had been “unmasked,” even though U.S. persons typically have their identities shielded when caught up in inadvertent surveillance, and that intelligence reports about the Trump transition were widely disseminated across the U.S. intelligence community.
The day following the disclosures he made, Rep. Nunes appeared to walk back his statements. According to a report in Talking Points Memo:
The office of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) now concedes that the House Intelligence Committee chair is not sure that the intelligence community ever incidentally collected communications from President Donald Trump or members of his transition team.
According to a report in The Washington Post on March 23, “Nunes said the information was classified, but he argued that disclosing the existence of the report and the nature of it did not reveal any classified information.”
Rep. Nunes has therefore admitted that the information in the report he reviewed was classified.
The question for OCE’s preliminary inquiry is whether there is reasonable basis to believe that the statements made by Rep. Nunes to the public, based on the classified information in the report he reviewed, publicly revealed classified information.