-- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he disagrees with panel chairman Devin Nunes' characterization of intelligence documents he saw at the White House as pointing to potential “incidental surveillance” of President Trump and his team during the transition.
"I can't go into the contents of the documents," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." “I can say I don't agree with the chairman's characterization.”
Schiff spent nearly two hours at the White House on Friday reviewing a set of intelligence documents that, he said he was told, were the same that GOP Rep. Nunes saw on his controversial night-time trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue earlier this month.
The California Democrat said the fact that he interpreted the intelligence information differently than Nunes "is exactly why it’s so important you don't share documents with just one person or even two people."
"They need to be shared with both full committees," he said, referring to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are both investigating possible ties between Russia and associates of President Trump.
Schiff questioned just how the White House knew that the documents they showed him were the same reviewed by Nunes considering that press secretary Sean Spicer has pushed back against any notion that it was the president's team who provided the information to the GOP representative.
“How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman if the White House wasn't aware what the chairman was being shown?” Schiff said Sunday. “It was told me ... that these materials were produced in the 'ordinary course of business.' The question for the White House and Mr. Spicer is, 'the ordinary course' of whose business?”
"If these were produced either for or by the White House, then why all of the subterfuge?" Schiff said. "There’s nothing ordinary about the process that was used here at all."
The Democratic representative also said he believes President Trump is trying to distract attention away from the Russia investigations by slamming reports on the probe as "fake news" and insisting that the real story is leaks to the press about the intelligence-gathering effort.
“I would tell people whenever they see the president use the word ‘fake’ it ought to set off alarm bells, and I think that is really what has gone on here,” Schiff said
Trump over the weekend publicly bashed the news media over his Twitter for focusing on what he calls the "fake" Russia story.