House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes' visit to the White House before revealing President Donald Trump and his staff might have been "incidentally" swept up in surveillance by U.S. spy agencies should not raise red flags, says Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense.
"Whether he did it by phone or in person, it doesn't matter; this is the kind of thing that politicians do," Babbin, who worked under President George H.W. Bush, told host Steve Malzberg on Monday's "America Talks Live."
"They coordinate and they talk to each other, and giving the White House a heads up on what exactly was going on and what he was finding, that's perfectly legitimate."
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Nunes reportedly apologized to his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee for telling President Donald Trump and the public about alleged surveillance claims before he informed the committee itself.
The California Republican who chairs the panel addressed the committee last Thursday. But a day earlier, he traveled from the Capitol to the White House and told the president communications of his transition officials, and perhaps even his, might have been "monitored" after last November's presidential election.
Nunes also held a press conference and revealed the information to the public.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee were furious with Nunes for going around them and straight to the president and TV cameras first. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even suggested Nunes might have leaked classified information.
But Babbin told Malzberg the president "is the ultimate authority on what's classified and what isn't."
"He has the authority to order these intelligence agencies to give him everything they've got on this whole Russian matter and on the whole business of the people whose communications were intercepted and may have been leaked, and he can decide what he wants to release to the public."
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