(CNSNews.com) - How did the FBI investigation into Trump-Russia coordination begin?
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says the FBI investigation was launched without any official intelligence communication.
"We now know there was no official intelligence that was used to start this investigation," Nunes told Fox News's Maria Bartiromo on Sunday. He said "major irregularities" at the Obama State Department -- information funneled through unofficial channels -- may have prompted the FBI's probe.
Nunes explained that the United States is part of an intelligence alliance -- the "Five Eyes" treaty -- which includes five countries: the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
As part of that Five Eyes agreement, "we are not supposed to spy on each other's citizens." Nunes said the agreement is "working well," because information about George Papadapoulos, a former Trump adviser who blabbed to an Australian diplomat in a London bar, did not come through official Five Eyes channels.
Nunes suspects the Obama State Department was passing information to the FBI:
"As you know, we are investigating the State Department," Nunes told Bartiromo. "We think there's some major irregularities at the State Department, and we're trying to figure out how it is that this information about Mr. Papadopoulos, of all people, who was supposedly meeting with folks in London -- how that made it over across into the FBI's hands. We know a little bit about that because of what some of the State Department officials themselves have said about that."
Nunes said members of the intelligence committee have "never understood" how the FBI could investigate Trump campaign associates without an official intelligence communication:
"So we thought, well, maybe there was one that went through a different channel that was kept really quiet, that was secret, that was kept from the Congress and other folks. Well, in fact, after our investigators reviewed this, that is not what happened. There was no Five Eyes intelligence product."
Nunes added, "We do know that long time associates of Hillary Clinton, including Sidney Blumenthal and another person named, I think, [Cody] Shearer, were actively giving information to the State Department that was somehow making its way to the FBI. This is from two people within the State Department who have now publicly come out and said this in, I think, in major news publications, so we know this," Nunes said.
"And so what we're trying to do is, we're trying to piece all of that together. We now know there was no official intelligence that was used to start this investigation. We know that Sidney Blumenthal and others were pushing information into the State Department. So we're trying to piece all of that together and that's why we continue to look at the State Department."
On Dec. 30, 2017, the New York Times reported that "during a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomatin Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton."
Nunes and and other intelligence committee Republicans believe that the unverified Steele dossier -- a political opposition document paid for by the Clinton campaign -- was used to launch the FBI's Trump-Russia counter-intelligence investigation.