House Intel chair Devin Nunes retains subpoena power in Russian Federation inquiry

The spy agency subpoenas were not mentioned in a bipartisan announcement on Wednesday that the panel approved subpoenas for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in connection with the Russian Federation probe.

The House Intelligence Committee asked intelligence agencies to reveal the redacted names of USA people and organizations in classified intelligence reports about Russian interference in the 2016 election 5 or 6 times past year, according to the Post, citing current and former officials. The subpoenas went to the agencies and not to those individuals personally, and it's unclear whether requests for the same information were sent out prior to the subpoenas.

Associates have said Comey wrote memos describing certain interactions with Trump that gave him pause in the months after the election, including details of a dinner in which he claimed the president asked him to pledge his loyalty, and a request to shut down the investigation of Flynn.

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017...case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing "the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan..." A GOP congressional aide said that the unmasking investigation was now considered separate from the Russian Federation probe, allowing Mr. Nunes to act on his own authority even while recused.

Four were issued to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, as well as their respective firms. The requests were made by former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, former national security adviser Susan Rice and Samantha Power, the former US representative to the United Nations, according to a congressional staffer, who was not authorized to disclose the information and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Unmasking" refers to the process of an intelligence agency revealing - per a request by a consumer of the intelligence - the identity of an American "incidentally" caught up in surveillance of a foreign target.

Nunes recused himself from the House investigation after he took a series of actions that raised questions about his independence in the investigation, and whether he was working with the White House to counter the Russian Federation narrative.

But Ryan chose not to strip Nunes of his chairmanship of the committee, and as chairman he retains the right to issue subpoenas without the consent of Democrats or the full committee.

Nunes hasn't "fully honored" his commitment not to be involved in the investigation, Schiff said.

Pelosi says Rep. Devin Nunes should not be issuing subpoenas because he stepped aside from the investigation after being criticized for being too close to the White House.

Of course, the fact that a subpoena demanding information is issued does not necessarily mean the information exists. Nunes called the accusations that he improperly shared classified information with the White House "entirely false". But Democrats were only informed about other subpoenas - those related to unmasking - at the last minute.

"I don't know what the chairman has in mind here again because we weren't consulted, or why the chairman is picking these three people", Schiff told CNN.

During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions testified that he "did not have any communications with the Russians" during the campaign and said in a written statement given to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was not in contact with anyone linked to the Russian government during the campaign.