Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed Wednesday that intelligence reports show American surveillance "incidentally collected" the conversations of some members of President Donald Trump’s transition team.
"Incidental collection" happens when a foreigner under surveillance calls, emails or discusses an American, and the conversation is picked up.
Nunes' reveal raised questions, but the fact that Americans involved in Trump’s transition may have been picked up in surveillance of foreigners "in and of itself, doesn't mean a thing. All it means is that a person on watch is talking to a U.S. person," Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer for the CIA and the NSA, told NBC News.
Any surveillance on American soil has to be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is made up of 11 federal judges. Congress has repeatedly asked the NSA and other intelligence agencies how many American each year are captured in incidental collection, but the government has said that it cannot disclose that information.