A former top official from the CIA and the Department of Defense is saying that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes' secret meeting at the White House last Tuesday night, is a distraction from the real story, the cancellation of hearings for former acting attorney general Sally Yates, the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan which were set to take place on Tuesday, March 28.

Up until now, reports have tried to piece together the initial whereabouts of Devin Nunes, who according to staffers had disappeared from an Uber vehicle the night of March 21, and seen again the next morning to make an announcement to the press in front of the White house.

In his briefing, he claimed to have new intelligence information over the surveillance of Donald Trump, which he reportedly turned and gave to the President before the Congressional committee could see it. The same committee was set to hear from all three former officials which Nunes abruptly canceled it Friday. The criticism comes from Jeremy Bash who was the former chief of staff at the Defense Department and the CIA under President Obama on MSNBC with Brian Williams Tuesday.

From disappearing act distraction to Sally Yates cancellation

Brian Williams gave Bash, a hypothetical scenario where Devin Nunes tells Adam Schiff to go with him to get new intelligence details for their investigation.

Jeremy Bash said that Schiff would have said that those with new intel would bring it to Capitol Hill. He added that Congress doesn't go to the White House on bended knee, the executive branch comes to them when they have new information to provide. But he also added that the real story wasn't about Devin Nunes' midnight run but that he and the White House coordinated a cancellation of the hearings.

The way Jeremy Bash described Nunes' cancellation of the hearing with the White House was as "an elaborately choreographed gag order" on Sally Yates, who wanted to speak in a public setting. She would then provide details of what the White House council had told her when she told them about the calls Michael Flynn had made to Russian officials last year.

Her information eventually led to his resignation from the National Security Council in February. Bash said that the White House made an effort to keep her quiet. But this also recalls the firing of Sally Yates by the Trump administration when she defied the President in January. She had refused to enforce his immigration ban by telling her attorneys at the DOJ to not act on the President's orders. This was after she had already told the White House of the vulnerability Flynn posed in their National Security Council.

White House's response

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, Sean Spicer said that the report from the Washington Post on the cancellation of Sally Yates' hearing was false. In his statements, he said that on March 14, Nunes invited Sally Yates to testify on March 28.

He says that on March 23, Sally Yates' attorney sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for their consent to let her testify without constraints but when they responded on March 24, Yates was referred to the White House as the DOJ said that the President owned communication privilege.

The Press Secretary then said that the Trump administration did not respond but that Yates' lawyer had in their letter stated that if there was no response by March 27, they would determine that the President did not hold executive privilege over such matters. By saying that they did not respond, he suggested that the White House did not take any action to prevent the hearing from taking place. One reporter wondered if Devin Nunes canceled the "set" date (not scheduled) for the hearing so that the White House did not have to publicly assert executive privilege. To this, Spicer said that he hoped Yates testifies. He said that allegations that the White House stood in the way of that is "100 percent false."