Congressman Nunes sought meeting with UK spy chiefs in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Congressman Devin Nunes, chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, sought unsuccessfully to meet chiefs of Britain’s three intelligence agencies on a recent visit to London, according to two sources familiar with his itinerary.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The sources said representatives of the British agencies initially considered meeting with Nunes during the trip which took place in recent weeks, but that scheduling difficulties made it impossible.

Ultimately, the sources said, after consultation with the three agencies MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy national security advisor, Madeline Alessandri, met Nunes. His London visit and his unsuccessful effort to meet British spy chiefs were originally reported by the Atlantic.

Nunes and staffers working for him have used Congressional powers to investigate persons and organizations Trump and his supporters view as enemies.

At one point last year, two Nunes aides unsuccessfully traveled to London to question former British spy Christopher Steele who compiled a controversial “dossier” on Trump.

Nunes’ House committee has sought testimony and business records from Fusion GPS, a Washington D.C. private investigations firm which was hired first by Republicans and then by Democratic Party lawyers to gather derogatory information on 2016 Republican presidential candidates.

As it became clear Trump was the Republicans’ likely presidential nominee, Fusion GPS in turn hired Steele, a former senior officer of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency, to look into Trump’s connections to Russia.

Steele produced a “dossier” of allegations against Trump, which received little media attention before the election but set off a political firestorm after its publication by the Buzzfeed website in January 2017.

Nunes and other Republican Congressional Trump supporters have pressed U.S. agencies and the Justice Department to turn over correspondence and message traffic related to Steele’s contacts with the FBI and other U.S. agencies and officials.

British intelligence agencies and Britain’s Cabinet Office had no immediate comment, and a spokesman for Nunes did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball in London; Editing by Peter Graff