Speed Reads


House intelligence panel chairman blames media for taking political 'neophyte' Trump's tweets 'literally'

Rep. Devin Nunes half-defends President Trump

Republicans have not exactly rushed to defend President Trump over his tweeted accusation that he'd "just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory," but the Republican leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees agreed to at least look into Trump's claims. On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of Trump's presidential transition executive committee, reframed Trump's accusation as the president publicly questioning whether he or his campaign had been targeted. "I think it's a valid question," he said in a press conference, "if indeed it was a question."

But even Nunes wouldn't back up the specific allegations Trump made, suggesting instead that the press cut Trump a little slack. "As you all know, the president is a neophyte in politics," Nunes said. "He's been doing this for a little over a year. And I think a lot of the things that he says, you guys sometimes take literally. Sometimes he doesn't have 27 lawyers and staff looking at what he does, which is, I think, at times refreshing and at times can also lead us to have to be sitting at a press conference like this answering questions that you guys are asking. But at the end of the day, I think tweets are a very transparent way for a politician of any rank to communication with their constituents."

On CNN Tuesday evening, Jake Tapper played that part of the interview for his panel of guests, and they were not especially sympathetic to Nunes' argument.

Nunes sounded like he wasn't necessarily happy to be answering for Trump's tweets, either. "My only request of the president would be, I don't want him to be completely lawyered up," he told the reporters, "but at the same time, I want him to be clear in what he's asking and the assertions that he's making."