The House Intelligence Committee has "not seen any evidence of anyone from President Donald Trump's campaign, or any other one, communicating with the Russian government," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes insisted in a news conference Monday morning, but he is concerned about "major leaks" that have come from the White House.
"Right after the leak of the transcript that President Trump had with the Australian prime minister, I was in contact with the Australian ambassador," the California Republican told reporters.
"I was also in contact with the White House and appropriate agencies, because we can't run a government like this. A government can't function with massive leaks at the highest level of our president talking to foreign leaders. That, I think, is one of the focuses that you all should be concerned about. These are high level leaks."
Nunes' name came up last week in connection with the Russia/Trump campaign scandal after he was asked to speak with a reporter about disputing news reports Trump campaign officials had been in contact with Russian agents.
"That story was a little odd, I thought, because if you ask me to contact the White House and said, 'Hey, could you set me up with somebody at DOD or the intelligence agencies,' I would say, 'sure,'" Nunes said.
"How is it compromised if I'm trying to be transparent with the press, and if the White House asks me to talk to a reporter?"
But even though he still has not seen evidence of connections, Nunes said nothing yet has been eliminated.
"The only thing I want to make sure we do is before we go after American citizens and subpoena them or bring them before the legislative branch of government, that it's not just because they appeared in a news story somewhere," Nunes said.
However, Russia has been very good at manipulating elections and the press, Nunes said, and there does need to be scrutiny put on the Kremlin.
"We do need to know if there are any Americans that are talking to the Russians, and anybody connected to the Russian government or Russian agents," Nunes said. "But at this time, I want to be very careful that we can't just go on a witch-hunt against Americans because they appear in a news story somewhere."
Nunes said he was not speaking specifically about former national security agency director Michael Flynn, but instead on three Americans who were implicated in speaking with Russians while on Trump's campaign, including former Campaign Director Paul Manafort.
"The question was whether or not we were going to investigate those Americans, and at this point here at the committee, we still don't have any evidence of them talking to Russians," Nunes said.
Nunes said the investigation is moving into receiving evidence, but "as of right now, the initial inquiries I've made to the appropriate agencies, I don't have any evidence" of contacts.
"As of right now I don't have any evidence of any phone calls," Nunes said. "That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I don't have that. And what I've been told is, by many folks, is that there's nothing there."
Nunes said he would not get into with whom he spoke, but there has been a "long ongoing investigation into Russian activities," and he would have rather it not have become part of public discussion.
"Since the election, we've broadened the scope of that investigation to include any involvement in our elections here, and of course any ties that there might be to any government officials at any level, so it's not just here in Washington, but governors and others," Nunes said.
"If there's anything out there, any American citizens from political campaigns coordinating with the Russian government, we clearly would want to know that, and we would want to investigate it."
Nunes said he has not seen the transcripts of Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador, but he has been briefed on them.
"I think we've got to be very careful about the legislative branch of government getting warranted communications, and that we start combing through private conversations that American citizens are having, we've got to be very careful where we go with this," Nunes said.
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