Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

WASHINGTON-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that the administration did not pressure the House Intelligence Committee to cancel an open hearing that would have seen former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testify.

After holding a press conference about his surveillance claims, Nunes briefed Trump, whose team is also under FBI investigation for alleged ties to Russian officials who may have interfered in the 2016 USA election.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Nunes should step down from the investigation. Trump first alleged March 4 in a tweet that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower.

"The chairman and I have worked together well for several years and I take this step with the knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have on the Intelligence Committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters", Schiff said in a statement on his request for Nunes to stand down. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Nunes' credibility and the House Intelligence Committee's ability to conduct its investigation.

TRT World's Tetiana Anderson has more on the controversy from Washington DC. "I think that's something that he had made very clear, and I'll let him answer it", Spicer said. Nunes was reportedly on White House grounds when he met with an unnamed source who gave him documents reportedly showing evidence of this.

The chairman has attracted criticism for his handling of the surveillance information - first for keeping the information from members of the House Intelligence Committee for partisan reasons and then for saying his source provided the classified information on the White House grounds.

Nunes insisted the House investigation would proceed normally, yet canceled all of the committee's meetings slated for this week when former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates said she would publicly testify.

When Nunes disclosed the intelligence reports last week, he said what he reviewed had nothing to do with Russian Federation, which could suggest that Trump associates were in touch with other foreign targets of USA intelligence surveillance in November, December or January. However, he hasn't said where he got the information other than acknowledging he was briefed on the details at the White House.

Unfortunately for Nunes, it is no longer just the Democrats' problem. Such a statement, however tepid, does no favors for Rep. Nunes and only fans the flames on what's providing to be a heated week for the committee chairman. "There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee".

I've been around for quite a while and I never heard of any such thing.

In a letter to O'Neil, Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools says the potential testimony described by the attorney involved conversations Yates and another senior department official had with the office of the counsel to the president, and that "such communications are likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possible the deliberative process privilege".

  • Leroy Wright