WASHINGTON — Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, met on the White House grounds with a source who showed him secret U.S. intelligence reports a day before he revealed that President Donald Trump or his closest associates may have been "incidentally" swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. spy agencies.
The meeting, confirmed Monday by his spokesman, was likely to further intensify questions about what prompted Nunes to make the claim about the intelligence gathering and who gave him the information.
Nunes' spokesman, Jack Langer, said the congressman met with his source at the White House because he needed access to a secure facility where people with security clearances can legally view classified information. But such facilities can also be found in the Capitol building.
Democrats characterized Nunes' announcement last week as an attempt by a congressman who was eager to do the White House's bidding to distract from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called it "more than suspicious" that Nunes went to the White House complex.
"Who is he meeting with?" Warner said in an interview with NBC. "Was it a source or somebody from the administration?"
Langer did not address those concerns Monday.
Acknowledging that the incidental collection from surveillance appeared to be legal, Nunes on Wednesday said his concerns surrounded additional names that may have been improperly "unmasked."
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said Nunes worried that anyone viewing the distributed reports could decipher who they were discussing even though the names were masked.
Nunes declined to offer any details about the source of what he characterized as "dozens" of classified intelligence reports.