Chuck Schumer demands Ryan replace Nunes on intel committee
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 28, 2017,
Mar 28, 2017, 7:16
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been puzzled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' apparent efforts in the past week to come to the rescue of President Donald Trump over his Tweeted claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower.
Nunes was describing his findings as he defended himself on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" from a wave of criticism following the revelation he visited White House grounds last week to access the information.
Nunes has come under fire for his perceived conflict of interest leading an investigation that deals in part with the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russian Federation, which the United States intelligence community accused of attempting to influence the presidential election.
A Democrat on the panel said Monday that the disclosure that Nunes viewed the new documents on White House grounds - with no other panel members present - means that the existing inquiries aren't sufficient.
Democrats say Nunes' behavior makes it impossible for him to continue to lead an impartial investigation into Russian involvement with Trump associates. He was a member of Mr Trump's presidential transition team, as well. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will be talking to the Senate committee, and the committee will hold its first open hearing on Thursday. So, that could be the White House grounds, it could be the White House, it could be the Pentagon, it could be Central Intelligence Agency. "I think that's something that he had made very clear, and I'll let him answer it", Spicer said.
Democrats have since questioned whether Nunes can remain independent while his committee probes Russia's potential interference in the 2016 contest before Election Day.
The House investigation, meanwhile, has been plagued with partisan divisions under Nunes' leadership.
Nunes tried to defend himself by saying that if he wanted to, he could have snuck onto the White House grounds at night unseen, "if I wanted to, I could have snuck onto WH grounds at night when nobody would have seen me".
The old doubt was that Nunes was literally a member of the Trump transition team to the White House, where he was part of a 15-person executive committee that included current Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump's children. His spokesman, Jack Langer, says Nunes went to the White House to be near "a secure location" where he could look at the information.
"The reports included details about the Trump transition, meetings of Trump and senior advisers; they were distributed throughout the intelligence community and to the White House", Nunes said in the interview. It is hard to imagine an interview that could have gone worse for Nunes and the White House.
Speaking to reporters during a press briefing, Spicer emphasized that there is a difference between how Nunes received his information and "nefarious" leaks to reporters.
A former senior White House told NBC's Peter Alexander that there's no way the White House wasn't complicit in Nunes' rendezvous with his source.
She also criticized Nunes' meeting to brief Trump.
"I know in his public statement, he has talked about having multiple sources", Spicer said.