House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) is reportedly temporarily stepping down from an investigation involving suspected collusion between Russia and members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team during the 2016 election.
BREAKING: House intel committee chief Devin Nunes says he's temporarily stepping aside from Russia probe amid ethics accusations.
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 6, 2017
Republican Representatives Michael Conaway from Texas, Trey Gowdy from South Carolina and Tom Rooney of Florida are stepping in to fill Nunes’s position on the probe as he steps aside for the time being.
Nunes is stepping aside due to several ethics complaints that alleged he improperly disclosed sensitive intelligence with the White House without prior authorization.
Many had called on Nunes to step aside before today, including Democratic ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, who criticized Nunes for bringing relevant information on the investigation to the White House before sharing it with the committee itself. Nunes had claimed at the time that the Trump team had been “incidentally” surveilled during the presidential campaign.
“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the President’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the Chairman,” Schiff said in March.
Nunes suggested that his stepping aside was due to a political backlash with “several leftwing activist groups” that have accused him of acting improperly with the Office of Congressional Ethics. He also defended his decision to step aside during his ethics probe while still maintaining he did nothing wrong. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated,” he added.
It’s unclear when Nunes would return to his role in leading the investigation. “I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” he said in a statement.