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Top Dem on Intel Committee accuses Chairman Nunes of improperly siding with Trump

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, responds to committee chairman Devin Nunes's comments earlier in the day about incidental collection of communications relating to U.S. President Donald Trump during the period of the presidential transition March 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. During the press conference Schiff indicated frustration with the actions of Nunes after briefing the press and White House before speaking with him, the highest ranking Democrat on the committee. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) accused the chairman of that committee of acting like a surrogate for the Trump administration instead of fulfilling his duty as the head of an independent entity. He made the comments to the press Wednesday.

"The chairman will need to decide whether he is a chairman of a independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or if he's gonna act as a surrogate of the White House," Schiff said, "because he cannot do both."

"And unfortunately the actions of today," he continued, "throw great doubt into the ability of the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation in a way it ought to be conducted. I have expressed these grave concerns with the chairman. I only learned about this the way that all of you did, when the chairman briefed the press in advance of briefing his own committee members. And that is a deep, deep problem."

Schiff was referring to the statement that Rep. Nunes (R-Calif.) had made to the press Wednesday saying that there is evidence he saw of surveillance on members of Trump's transition team. President Trump took the opportunity to say that he felt "somewhat" vindicated by Nunes' revelation for calling on Congress to investigate the accusation.

"The committee has still not received the intercepts," Schiff continued, "or other information that the chairman was referring to, and therefore it is really impossible for us to evaluate the merits of what the chairman has said."

"And I would say that the most profound concern here I have," Schiff offered, "is that these actions simply raise enormous doubt about whether the committee can do its work. And I think that more than anything else I've seen, this makes the profound case for the formation of an independent commission."

Nunes had earlier said that there wasn't any evidence of wiretapping on Trump, but the president's allies and spokespersons have expanded the original accusation to include any surveillance whatsoever.

Some on the right have soured on the accusations, from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly who said the story was now hurting Trump's presidency and he should move on, to Brit Hume who called it a "continuing embarrassment" for Trump.

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