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US House to investigate ‘surveillance of campaigns’ as part of Russia probe

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, answers questions at the US Capitol during a press conference on March 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photos by AFP)

The chief of the Intelligence Committee at the US House of Representatives says surveillance of political parties in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election will be subject to investigation during a probe into Russia’s alleged role in the vote, which yielded President Donald Trump.

California Republican Representative Devin Nunes said Sunday that the investigation already underway into alleged Russian interference would include surveillance of political parties.

He made the remarks shortly after White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on Congress to investigate former President Barack Obama’s surveillance of Trump ahead of the 2016 vote, as the real estate tycoon has claimed.

This file photo taken on January 20, 2017 shows 
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arriving to greet Donald Trump and his wife Melania to the White House in Washington, DC.

“One of the focus points of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation is the US government's response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement. “As such, the Committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it.”

In an effort to downplay allegations that Moscow interfered in the 2016 vote in his favor, Trump claimed Saturday that Obama spied on him by wiretapping Trump Tower in the run-up to the December 8, 2016 election.

In a declassified report released in January the intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped the New York billionaire win the White House, an allegation dismissed by Moscow.

Ahead of Election Day, Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, kept complaining about his campaign’s ties with Russia.

Calling for an investigation into the Obama administration’s deeds ahead of the 2016 vote has faced criticism from Democrats, including US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

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