Trump's ally steps aside in US Congress' Russia probe

Frederick Owens
April 21, 2017

Nunes said he was stepping aside "temporarily" for another committee Republican, Mike Conaway, to lead the probe while he fights House ethics charges that he leaked classified information.

This comes after the announcement on Thursday morning that the embattled Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., will be stepping away from the Russian Federation probe.

More than a week after Mr Nunes reviewed classified materials shared by a secret source on White House grounds, Mr Schiff saw the same material, but refused to publicly discuss what he learned.

Democrats said Nunes, who was a member of Trump's transition team, compromised the investigation by showing the evidence to Trump before the full committee was able to vet it.

Nunes calls the accusations against him "entirely false" and says "leftwing activist groups" filed a complaint against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

So he's going to stay as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the full committee, but he's going to leave the Russian Federation investigation to his colleagues, including Mike Conaway of Colorado, Trey Gowdy of SC and other top Republicans on the panel.

Nunes said in his statement that he has requested to speak to the House Ethics Committee "at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims".

Mr Nunes did not disclose details of the allegations.

The Ethics Committee "is investigating and gathering more information regarding these allegations", they said.

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"But Chairman Nunes wants to make sure he is not a distraction to this very important investigation", he added. "I'm sure it was a very hard decision for him but, as he mentioned, I do think it's in the best interest of the investigation", he said to ABC News.

Nunes's stepping aside came after weeks of public tensions between himself and Adam Schiff, the Democratic vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

A Republican congressman familiar with the situation told CNN that the ethics committee complaint against Nunes runs the risk of changing the way the intelligence committee does its job.

Clapper was the first in the intelligence community to say that Trump's claim to have been wire tapped by former President Barack Obama during the transition period had no basis in fact.

"I am hopeful that under the leadership of Mike Conaway we can move forward in a bipartisan way that gets to the truth of Russia's interference in our election and whether any Americans were involved", Castro said.

GREENE: So is this a sign that Donald Trump and his White House, they want a clean investigation that in their hopes would show that there was just nothing the Trump campaign did with Russian Federation, and they want to make sure that that is credible going forward? I do think that it calls up the need once again for a truly independent commission, something that would supplement whatever we do in Congress, but would be detached from Congress, would be beyond any kind of political interference by the White House.

House Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, praised his action.

The announcement surprised journalists who had been covering Nunes closely.

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