The chairman of the House Intelligence has admitted there is “one” member of Donald Trump’s administration in the White House being investigated.
Republican California congressman Devin Nunes made the admission comes as US intelligence chiefs prepare to give evidence to Congress, in a rare hearing about possible links between Mr Trump’s election campaign and the Kremlin.
The hearing, set to include FBI boss James Comes and Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the NSA, will also address the President’s claim that Trump Tower was “wiretapped” by former President Obama.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday about the allegations, Mr Nunes appeared to inadvertently reveal new a person at White House was facing a probe in a remark which was not pursued by his interviewer, Chris Wallace.
Mr Wallace asked him if thought there was any surveillance of “people in Trump World” or of others communicating with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the US, who were “incidentally” monitored in surveillance.
Mr Nunes replied: “Well, if you look at the folks that are working at the White House today, that are involved in the Trump administration, I don’t think there’s any but one there that is under any type of investigation or surveillance activities at all.”
Even a single person in the Trump administration being monitored by the intelligence services would represent a major crisis of government and trigger a scandal.
As pointed out by Shareblue, Mr Wallace may have thought Mr Nunes was referring to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned in disgrace last month over his Russian connections.
But Mr Nunes was specific in talking about people working in the White House “today”.
The remark led to commentators accusing Mr Nunes of revealing to a high level suspect they are being watched.
Conservative pundit Louise Mensch tweeted: “Why are you revealing to a suspect he is under investigation Devin Nunes! Stop obstructing justice! Resign!”
And former Pentagon official Adam Blickstein called Mr Nunes “a leaker”.
Mr Nunes has maintained there is “no evidence” of any connection between President Trump’s election campaign and Russia and has voiced his distaste at an investigation.
The President has called it a "witch hunt".
But US spy agencies have said they believe Moscow-backed hackers illegally accessed and leaked Democratic Party emails in order to sway the election in Mr Trump’s favour.