And so on Friday, running out of excuses to defend the president's unfounded claims that Barack Obama (or perhaps the British government) "wiretapped" him-both allegations denied by the directors of the F.B.I. and the N.S.A. -the White House press secretary began to volunteer a series of increasingly tangential and conspiratorial stories he suggested the press should be chasing instead.
That's according to Fox News senior correspondent Adam Housley, who is reporting that the unmasking of private US citizens began before Trump was the GOP nominee and was done for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security. How much of a risk is the White House taking by urging Flynn to testify?
"I can say that we've continued to say the substance of this matter and what continues to come to light in terms of Obama officials admitting either off the record or, frankly, on the record, consistent with what Dr. Farkas says, that there was clearly an attempt to do something politically motivated with the intelligence out there", he said.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) now under left-media and Democrat fire for seeing the information, but not sharing it with his committee, now knows who the individual is, according to the reports.
The sources told Nunes who was responsible and at least one of the Trump team names that was unmasked.
Warner, D-Va., ranking Democrat on the Senate committee, offered an appeal to common sense: The public, he said, must "not lose sight of what the investigation is about: An outside foreign adversary effectively sought to hijack our most critical democratic process, the election for president" in order to "favor one candidate over another".
A California congressman under fire for his handling of an investigation into Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential election avoided a crowd of angry protesters in a Friday visit to his home state.
Congressional investigators on Friday rebuffed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's offer of cooperation in exchange for immunity from prosecution, saying it is too early in their probe of Russian Federation connections to discuss a deal. He was replaced by H.R. McMaster, an Army lieutenant general who was expected to exert more control over the NSC but has found himself struggling to overcome skepticism among Flynn holdovers who have the ear of Bannon.
Recent comments about Russian Federation intelligence collection made this month on MSNBC by Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense who left in 2015, have received attention this week and Sean Spicer brought them up during today's briefing.
Cohen-Watnick was a protege of Flynn, having worked for him at the Pentagon's intelligence shop.
Syrian refugee numbers pass five million mark in region
Aid groups and the United Nations have also regularly warned about the long-term impact of the crisis, particularly on children. Unlike Palestinian refugees who live in camps managed by the United Nations, Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in informal camps.
This week, the White House latched onto a month-old television interview from an Obama administration official who said she encouraged congressional aides to gather as much information on Russian Federation as possible before the inauguration.
A US official confirmed Cohen-Watnick had access to the kind of intelligence materials, but maintained he did not play a role in helping the congressman access the documents.
On Thursday, however, reports surfaced that three White House officials had helped provide the intelligence documents to Nunes.
The current and former officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive matters.
Nunes announced last week that he had seen intelligence reports showing that Trump aides' communications were picked up through routine surveillance.
Nunes shared what he had learned with Trump and held a news conference but did not give the information to the rest of the committee, angering Democrats and some Republicans. "Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong". He said officials "have no incentive to see intelligence reports they gather and distribute for national security purposes become fodder in domestic political disputes".
Leaving the luncheon, Joseph Butterweck said after listening to Nunes and following news accounts, he believes the congressman and Trump did nothing wrong.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. "I had a fear that they were essentially watching the Trump staff, and he was anxious about the Trump administration, '" Spicer said about Farkas.