The New York Times has tracked down the people who slipped info to Devin Nunes, and the reason he was never, ever going to reveal his sources seems clear enough.
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 two sources turn out to be Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office who used to work with Nunes at the House Intelligence Committee, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who is the Senior Director for Intelligence at the National Security Council.
If you’re thinking that Cohen-Watnick’s name in this pairing redeems Nunes’ statement that he had gathered his secret info from an intelligence official, note that Cohen-Watnick is in his position under very unusual circumstances.
National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster had informed Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, that he’d be moving to another position on Friday, Politico reported. McMaster reportedly made the decision after receiving complaints from several career officials about the 30-year-old intelligence operative. …
After they informed Trump of the situation Sunday, he overruled McMaster and told Cohen-Watnick he could stay put.
Cohen-Watnick knows Nunes because they were both members of the Trump transition team. How did he get on the NSC? MIchael Flynn put him there.
This is too perfect. It’s like ur-hypocrisy.
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.
So, a lawyer from the office of White House Counsel, and a guy who was put in place by Michael Flynn, who the professionals on the NSC wanted to get rid of, but who Donald Trump personally intervened to keep in place and who got access to the information he fed to Nunes specifically in a desperate attempt to shore up Trump’s unsupported Tweet.
Whoo boy. This is going to be good.