House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes To Step Aside From Russia Probe

It is ironic that Mr. Nunes's carefully worded press briefing was done in part to root out the real scandal of who in the Obama Administration gave the media the unmasked name and classified conversations of Donald Trump's first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.

So it's hardly surprising that Nunes may have landed himself in hot water.

"This has been a distraction", she said.

Nunes said he was withdrawing temporarily while the House Ethics Committee probed a complaint by outside groups - a complaint he called "false and politically motivated" - that he had improperly disclosed classified information.

Questions were raised about Nunes' relationship with the Trump Administration last month after he went to the White House to review documents he says showed that communication between members of Trump's transition team had been picked up in surveillance.

Conaway is a seven-term congressman and the second-ranking Republican on the committee.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating the issue since June, when it became clear to USA intelligence that the Russian government was behind hacks of Democratic Party communications and a misinformation campaign. The committee only considers complaints filed or endorsed by House members and can recommend punishments.

Immediately after Mr Nunes' news conference, critics argued that he had disclosed classified information in what many saw as an effort to provide cover to Mr Trump's wiretapping claim and to distract from the wider Russian Federation investigation.

In a statement, Ryan said Nunes "is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws".

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) welcomed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's (R-Calif.) decision to step aside from the panel's probe of Russian election interference, but he stopped short of calling for Nunes's removal as chairman.

The California Republican's decision comes amid partisan turmoil on the committee. Rep. Conaway with help from Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC and Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, will temporarily take charge of the investigation, said Speaker Paul Ryan. Nunes did not share the original materials or what he knew with the other members of his committee, which caused its investigation to stall.

Representative Mike Conaway, the most senior Republican on the intelligence committee, will now lead the probe.

Leaders of the Committee on Ethics acknowledged the committee "is investigating and gathering more information regarding these allegations" about Nunes releasing classified information to the public in violation of his oath of office.

Lawmakers "take an oath that they will not disclose classified information", said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit that promotes government accountability and transparency.

"I think that we can get back to getting our investigation back on track, " said Sewell, a Democrat who serves on the committee.

Republican Speaker Ryan said he supported Nunes' decision to step aside.

In a statement on Thursday, Republican congressman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) of California says that several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against him with the office of congressional ethics. Nunes said during his March 22 news conference that what he was discussing was "all classified".

"I look forward to my continued work with the Chairman on the whole host of other important issues that our committee oversees every day", he said in a statement.

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  • Leroy Wright