2 White House officials helped give Nunes intelligence reports, according to the New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - Two White House officials played a role in providing House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes with documents showing President Donald Trump and his associates were swept up in surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Times identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel's office.

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U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) briefs reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) walks out to brief reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) briefs reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) briefs reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speak with the media about the ongoing Russia investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-CA) questions FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers during a hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
US Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) (R),Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) (2nd R) and Hubbard family members look on as US President George W. Bush (3rd R) signs the Hubbard Act in the Oval Office in the White House in Washington, August 29, 2008. The Hubbard Act protects the benefits of soldiers who leave the armed forces because they are the sole survivors in a family where other members have been killed in duty, and is named after the Hubbard family who lost two of their three sons in the war in Iraq. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)
Devin Nunes, a Republican from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, walks through Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 24, 2017. Paul Manafort, former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, is willing to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in last years U.S. election, Nunes said today. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes speaks to journalists about upcoming investigation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Friday March 24, 2017. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to comment on the details of the report during a briefing on Thursday.

The New York Times reported that Cohen-Watnick began reviewing "highly classified reports" about intercepted communications of foreign officials after Trump said on Twitter earlier this month that he was "wiretapped" by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

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The reports reviewed by Cohen-Watnick consisted of mostly of ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how to develop contacts with the Trump family and his inner circle ahead of inauguration, the paper reported.

FBI Director James Comey told Congress he had seen no evidence to support the wiretapping claim. Obama has denied the accusation through a spokesman.

Nunes, who was a member of Trump's transition team, has faced criticism from Democrats and some prominent Republicans, for the way he handled the allegations about U.S. spy agency surveillance of Trump's team.

Many Democrats, including Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, have called for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after he met last week with an unidentified source at the White House complex, accusing him of colluding with the White House.

The House Intelligence Committee, headed by Nunes, is also investigating possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor. Russia has denied the allegations. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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