Devin Nunes (R-CA), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says he will step out of his committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election and the Obama Administration’s surveillance of the Trump campaign.
His decision comes following serious pressure from Democrats who argue that he improperly released the information he viewed in secret on March 21st.
Nunes said it was “leftwing activist groups” who convinced him to step aside. These groups filed “entirely false and politically motivated” accusations with the Office of Congressional Ethics. These accusations “are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of US citizens and other abuses of power,” said Nunes.
The California congressman plans to speak with the House Ethics Committee “in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”
Meanwhile, the committee is looking into allegations that Nunes “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”
“David Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws.”
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) will take Nunes’ place leading the Russia investigation. He hopes to work with the committee’s Democratic members to get the investigation back on track.
“We’re going to pursue the investigation, follow every lead to its logical conclusion,” said Conaway. “We’re going to conduct the investigation and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pursue every lead.”
Nunes did nothing wrong here, but stepping back from the situation may have been a smart move – if only to prevent more drama surrounding the Russia case.
Nunes is the second high-profile Trump ally to remove himself from the ongoing investigation into the alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign, following AG Jeff Sessions’ recusal from a parallel investigation in the Justice Department.