House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has recused himself from the congressional investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.
Nunes came under fire after his actions sparked questions of impartiality and a House ethics committee probe into whether Nunes is guilty of handling classified information improperly.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) will now be leading the House investigation into Russia.
After learning that members of President Trump’s transition team had potentially come under surveillance themselves because of third party individuals they had been communicating with, Nunes raced off to the White House to share the information with the president and then held a press conference without discussing the matter with other intelligence committee members.
When it was revealed in early March that the information came from inside the White House itself, Nunes was again perceived by many as too loyal to Trump to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.
Nunes never said whether or not his sources came from Trump administration personnel, but instead blamed the ethics complaints against him on “left-wing activist groups” that were out to besmirch his name. Nunes’ spokesman, Jack Langer, however, admitted the chairman met with his sources on White House grounds.
“Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source,” Langer said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is supporting Nunes’ decision to step aside for the time being and allow Conaway to continue the investigation.
If Democrats and members of the public are hoping Conaway will take the allegations against Russia seriously and conduct a comprehensive and nonpartisan investigation, they are likely to be disappointed.
Conaway once compared the seriousness of potential Russian interference to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton having Mexican celebrities campaign for her. Thus, expectations by the minority party should not be high.
[NPR] [New York Times] [Los Angeles Times] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Meena Ganesan/Washington Post]