The White House has defended the House intelligence committee chairman’s decision to brief President Donald Trump on intelligence intercepts even as Devin Nunes privately apologised to his congressional colleagues.
The decision to disclose the information before talking to committee members outraged Democrats and raised questions about the independence of the panel’s probe of Russian interference in the election.
“It was a judgement call on my part,” Nunes told reporters shortly after the closed-door committee meeting.
“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong decision.”
Democrats questioned whether Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, was working in co-ordination with the White House, a charge the White House disputed.
Still, White House spokesman Sean Spicer claimed, inaccurately, Nunes was “vindicating” the president’s unproven assertion president Barack Obama wiretapped his New York skyscraper during the election.
Nunes specifically stated the new information he received did not support the president’s explosive allegations.
Nunes told reporters he had seen new information showing the communications of Trump transition officials were scooped up through monitoring of other targets and improperly spread through intelligence agencies during the final days of the Obama administration.
On Wednesday, Nunes spoke to reporters and the president without sharing the new information with Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat.
On Thursday morning, Nunes apologised to Schiff and other Democrats during a 20-minute meeting on Capitol Hill.
“It was a sombre discussion,” said Democrat Joaquin Castro, a committee member.
Speaking to reporters after his apology, Nunes ducked questions about whether he was parroting information given to him by the White House, saying only he was “not going to ever reveal sources”.
Nunes’ disclosure came two days after FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the bureau’s own investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia.