Rep. Devin Nunes explains White House visit

CNN/YouTube Remix by Jason Reed

Nunes steps down from Russia probe amid House Ethics Committee investigation

Nunes is accused of violating House Intelligence Committee ethics rules.

 

Andrew Couts

Tech

Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has recused himself from the committee’s probe into Russian election meddling because he is now under investigation himself over accusations that he improperly exposed state secrets.

Nunes’ decision to step away from the committee’s probe follows weeks of controversy over the chairman’s handling of the investigation and his exposure of intelligence information that critics say both violated ethics rules and threatened the investigation’s independence from a White House that has consistently attempted to sway the focus of the congressional inquiry.

In a statement announcing the decision, Nunes accused “leftwing activists” of derailing his leadership in the investigation by filing grievances with the Office of Congressional Ethics, accusations he said are “entirely false and politically motivated.” Nevertheless, Nunes will step down from the investigation while the House Ethics Committee conducts an investigation into whether the congressman improperly revealed classified information.

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) will fill the leadership role in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation and Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) will assist him in the matter.

Calls for Nunes to recuse himself from the committee’s Russia investigation began after he held a March 22 press conference in which he revealed that an anonymous intelligence source had provided him with classified information showing that several of President Donald Trump‘s associates had been caught in “incidental collection” of intelligence and had their names unmasked. Nunes dropped this revelation publicly before informing other members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes’ announcement came two days after FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau was engaged in an ongoing investigation into Russia’s activities, which included looking into potential cooperation between Trump associates and Russia’s government. Nunes’ move was seen as beneficial to the Trump administration, which had consistently insisted that no Russia connection exists.

While Nunes repeatedly denied that White House officials were the source of his information, reports later revealed that he had viewed the classified documents on the White House grounds and that White House staffers involved in national security had provided him with the information.

Since those reports came out, conservative media outlets and Trump have accused former Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice of orchestrating a plot to surveil and expose members of Trump’s team for political purposes, the latest evolution in Trump’s claim that former president Barack Obama had his “wires tapped” at Trump Tower ahead of the election. Rice has denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to the House committee’s investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own investigation into Russia’s attempts to tamper with the U.S. election process.

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