As Nunes steps aside, Gowdy takes leadership role in Russian Federation probe

Posted April 09, 2017

He added, "I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims".

After resisting for weeks calls from Democrats to step aside, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) temporarily stepped aside Thursday, April 6 from the committee's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election.

The complaint apparently refers to Nunes' statements last month that USA surveillance operations aimed at foreign targets had incidentally collected communications involving members of President-elect Trump's transition team, and that some of the US citizens had been identified or "unmasked". He described the charges as "entirely false and politically motivated", and said he was stepping aside to fight all the allegations. Nunes was under pressure after the House Ethics Committee determined to investigate allegations that "Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct".

His fellow Republican and House Speaker Paul Ryan has nonetheless said he believes Mr Conaway "will oversee a professional investigation into Russia's actions and follow the facts wherever they lead".

Jane Harman, a former top House Intelligence Democrat who is now president of the Wilson Centre think tank, said she hoped the committee could "overcome the paralysis" gripping the investigation.

Nunes said he decided it was in "the best interests" of the committee for him to have Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, take over the probe with help from fellow Republican committee members Reps.

Nunes pledged to "continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman" in matters unrelated to the Russian Federation probe.

"So I think it may be important to have him as part of the national security investigation, but not this investigation of Russian Federation".

One day after that stunning revelation, Nunes secretly visited the White House to review evidence that is now at the center of Trump's counter-offensive.

"There was a cloud hanging over us after the White House incident", Schiff told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Republican Mike Conaway will lead the probe while Nunes faces questions over his own links to Trump, which Democrats have criticised as too close for comfort for this role.

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes has learned the hard way the price of being overly loyal to this White House, sacrificing his objectivity in the process. He also chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and is a member of the Armed Services Committee.

And I have great admiration and respect for Mr. Conaway and look forward to our continued work on that together.

Schiff: Well, look, I think it's the best that we can do within the House Intelligence Committee.

As multiple investigations into Russia's meddling have gained steam, the Trump administration and its allies in Congress have accused Former president Barack Obama's administration of seeking names of United States citizens caught up in surveillance of foreign nationals for political purposes.

A Republican aide said Nunes met with Ryan on Wednesday night to discuss stepping aside from the Russian Federation probe. "You don't hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that".

Nunes stepped aside from the investigation two weeks after he told the media he had seen evidence to suggest intelligence on people close to Trump was collected by US authorities last fall.