Devin Nunes says he's temporarily stepping aside from Russian Federation probe

Cheryl Sanders
April 8, 2017

Chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes says he is temporarily stepping down as head of the panel's investigation into alleged Russian election tampering.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, speaking to reporters on Thursday, expressed his faith in Conaway's ability to lead the investigation.

Two and a half weeks later, Nunes held the news conference saying an unidentified source had shown him intelligence reports containing "unmasked" names of Trump associates incidentally caught up in routine foreign surveillance.

Nunes then briefed President Trump without first disclosing his information to the committee's ranking member, California Rep. Adam Schiff, or other members of the committee.

Texas Republican Mike Conaway will now preside over the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Nunes said in a statement that he had made a decision to step aside from the Russian Federation investigation to fight the allegations and wanted "to expedite the dismissal of these false claims".

Some Democrats, including Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called for Republican leaders to oust Nunes from his chairmanship post.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information. But, as one Intelligence Committee member said, he could do more than make an unsubstantiated allegation.

The change in leadership is driven by accusations that Nunes mishandled classified information.

Many on Capitol Hill have said he is too eager to do the White House's bidding and can not be an impartial investigator into questions about any role President Donald Trump's associates may have had in last year's Russian campaign to disrupt the election.

The California Republican said he would continue to serve as the panel's chairman, while Republican Representative Mike Conaway of Texas will replace him in overseeing the Russian Federation inquiry.

He says Rep. Mike Conaway is more than capable of leading the House investigation.

Nunes drew criticism after he went to the White House on March 21 to view top secret files he said indicated abuse of intelligence by the Obama administration.

They have also accused Nunes of coordinating with the White House about the witnesses appearing before the committee, after he canceled a planned open hearing with the former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan, and former acting attorney general Sally Yates.

That allegation has kicked off an evolving, unsubstantiated controversy about whether the Obama White House tried to spy on the incoming Trump administration. The ensuing chaos rocked the House investigation and led some lawmakers to declare it dead, but Republicans and Democrats have slowly been setting it back on course.

Now, the congressman said, with this "bullsh**" ethics committee complaint against Nunes.

"I am confident that he will oversee a professional investigation into Russia's actions and follow the facts wherever they may lead", Ryan said.

Nunes last month disclosed that Trump associates' communications had been swept up by USA spy agencies and, he suggested, mishandled by Obama administration officials.

"I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims".

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