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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

On Monday, House Intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes lectured FBI Director James Comey for putting "a big, gray cloud" over the Trump White House. Two days later, Nunes floated a new gray cloud — this time over the Obama Administration.

Most extraordinarily, Nunes wouldn't rule out the possibility that the surveillance of Trump and his transition team was a politically motivated act by the Obama Administration. That's probably why Trump said afterwards that he now feels vindicated for his wiretapping tweet, even though Nunes still says Obama himself didn't order a tap of Trump's phone.

Bottom line: Nunes' actions today were extraordinary. They raise both substantive and political questions. Was Trump being inappropriately surveilled? Were they appropriately surveilled and inappropriately unmasked? And is Nunes risking his credibility as intelligence chair by giving the administration a giant political gift?

What Nunes revealed, shortly after he briefed President Trump at the White House:

  • Nunes says a person or people — he wouldn't give any more detail than that — brought to him intelligence reports that showed the Obama Administration collected communications related to President-elect and his transition team.
  • He said what he'd seen concerned him and we should have more information by Friday.
  • Nunes said the surveillance had nothing to do with Russia, was "incidental collection," and probably legal, which means Trump or his team were likely talking to an intelligence target or targets whose surveillance was approved by the FISA Court.
  • Incidental means the Trump folks were not the target, but by questioning whether the targeting was appropriate Nunes raises questions about political motive.
  • Some of these names — and he strongly hinted the President was among them —were "unmasked." That likely means one of 20 or so people on the NSA staff decided there was a reason to change the names of the Trump folks from "person A" to their actual name.
  • The intelligence reports naming the Trump team people are circulating around the intelligence community and Nunes doesn't know how many people have seen them.

What Nunes wouldn't reveal:

  • The names of the Trump transition team members under surveillance.
  • What was said in the conversations: "I think it [the surveillance] should bother the President himself and his team... because some of it seems to be inappropriate."
  • The names of the foreign targets of the surveillance. Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative who opposed Trump in the election, tweeted: "If what @DevinNunes says is true, Trump was communicating with persons of intelligence or criminal interest."
  • Who ordered the surveillance.

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
3 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

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