Dispute erupts over US House panel subpoenas for CIA, FBI

"Unmasking" refers to the process of an intelligence agency revealing - per a request by a consumer of the intelligence - the identity of an American "incidentally" caught up in surveillance of a foreign target.

Schiff on Thursday blasted Nunes for continuing to hold power over the investigation's subpoenas, despite pledging almost two months ago to step aside.

A senior House Republican aide noted Friday that Nunes never promised to "recuse" himself - citing the legal definition of the word - and added that Nunes, who is still the chairman of the House intelligence committee, has a duty to investigate whether United States residents had their names revealed in classified intelligence reports, an issue pushed hard by Trump in response to the Russian Federation investigations.

A Republican aide argued to CNN that Nunes never used the word "recusal", and Nunes had therefore not recused himself.

Schiff was referring to Jeff Sessions' written recommendation to Trump that he should fire former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Nunes' earlier this year had created such an uproar by claiming Obama-era individuals had inappropriately requested unmasking, suggesting they did so to illegally spy on the Trump campaign.

Nunes' decision to send out subpoenas re-opened old wounds and allegations that he was coordinating with the White House to undercut the House Russia investigation.

Pelosi said she's spoken a few times to Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanBusiness moguls can learn from Trump: Winners never quit, quitters never win Media groups call for congressional investigation of Gianforte over "body slam" Pelosi: Nunes violating recusal in Russian Federation probe MORE (R-Wis.) to voice her concerns about Nunes. "We will continue to pursue this investigation wherever the facts may lead".The aide argued that "temporarily stepping aside" and "recusing" are two entirely different things, and noted that Nunes still has an important job to fill as chairman of the House intelligence committee, including investigating any "unmasking" - the revealing of USA nationals swept up in routine surveillance of foreign officials - in intelligence reports. According to committee rules, the chairman has to sign off on all subpoenas, unless that authority is delegated to someone else.

On Thursday ThinkProgress reported "Devin Nunes and Trump are still working together in attempt to manufacture [an] "unmasking" scandal".

Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, replied to Trump's tweet, calling it a "pathetic distraction".

The subpoenas, which were issued by Nunes, specifically named former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan and United Nations ambassador Samantha Power as persons of interest.

"When these ethics charges are gone then I'm going to be back again", Nunes said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nunes spoke the day after he stepped down from his role in the Russian Federation investigation after coming under pressure over a visit to the White House to discuss classified material.

If there are credible accusations that Obama administration officials improperly violated the privacy of Americans, including Trump advisors, the intelligence committee should investigate them. Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, is under scrutiny in the FBI's investigation, fired FBI Director James Comey will testify before Congress next week about a conversation he had in which the president asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

  • Larry Hoffman