House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has temporarily recused himself from the committee’s investigation into Russian election interference due to ethics complaints.
On Thursday morning Nunes announced the decision, stating it came after multiple “leftwing activist groups” filed accusations of unethical behavior with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Nunes said in a statement. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power. Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter. I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”
Committee member Mike Conaway (R-Texas) is now in charge of the investigation, and he will be assisted by Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is also on the ethics committee and was a member of the Trump transition team.
Paul Ryan stood by Nunes, issuing a statement in support of his decision.
Adam Schiff (D-CA), top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded to the action in a statement.
Schiff is also receiving heat over conflict of interest after Fox News host Sean Hannity called for his recusal on Wednesday night, after Schiff defended Susan Rice the previous day on MSNBC.
During the interview in question, Schiff called the outrage over Rice’s requested unmasking of Trump associates “a theory in search of a villain.” He defended her actions as legal and ethical as part of her position with the National Security Administration.
Hannity called the response to Devin Nunes’ recent actions “smear” and “slander” from the “alt-left, destroy Trump propaganda” and stated that Schiff is the one who is showing bias and is “too partisan” to continue investigating with the committee.
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