(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House intelligence committee, told reporters on Monday that there is no evidence that any campaign officials -- from either the Trump or the Clinton campaigns -- had any contact with the Russian government or Russian agents before the election.
Nunes called the Monday news conference to refute a Feb. 14 report in the New York Times that said: “[M]embers of Trump’s presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
The Times said it based its reporting on information provided by “four current and former American officials,” all of them unnamed.
“We still have not seen any evidence of anyone that’s from the Trump campaign or any other campaign, for that matter, that’s communicated with the Russian government,” Nunes said.
Nunes also said there’s nothing wrong with White House officials asking him to speak to reporters about the issue. Being transparent with the press doesn’t compromise the intelligence committee’s ongoing investigation into alleged Trump-Russian ties, he said.
Nunes said he’s more concerned about “major leaks that have occurred here,” including Trump’s leaked phone conversation with the Australian prime minister and Michael Flynn’s post-election conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Nunes said we've known for a long time that the Russians are “very interested in manipulating elections, manipulating the press, they’re very good at propaganda.”
And he said the situation definitely requires scrutiny: “And we do need to know if there are any Americans that are talking to the Russians or anybody connected to the Russian government or Russian agents, but at this time, I want to be very careful that we can’t just go on a witch hunt against Americans because they appear in a news story somewhere.”
Nunes said he would have preferred for his committee’s “long, ongoing investigation into Russian activities” to be private, not out in the public.
“Since the election, we’ve broadened the scope of that investigation to include any involvement in our elections here, and of course, any ties that there might be to any government officials at any level, so it’s not just here in Washington but governors and others. If there’s anything out there, any American citizens from political campaigns coordinating with the Russian government, we clearly would want to know that and we would want to investigate it.”
Nunes also said he opposes the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the alleged Trump-Russian connections.
"I think the history of special prosecutors is mixed,” he said. “And at this point, what are we going to appoint a special prosecutor to do exactly? To chase stories of American citizens that end up in newspaper articles?"
Nunes said if it turns out that serious crimes have been committed, then appointing a special prosecutor would be something his committee would consider. “But at this point…the only serious crimes we have are leaks that have come out of our government.”