Schiff Calls On House Intel Chair To Recuse Himself From Russia Probe; Nunes Refuses

Update: Nunes has refused to step down from the Russia probe, The Hill reports. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters Monday evening he will not step down from the committee's investigation into Russia's interference in the United States presidential election, despite a chorus of Democratic lawmakers demanding he recuse himself. 

"Everything is politics here," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said, as reported by a journalist from Voice of America.

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Following similar calls by his ideological peers, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff demanded on Monday evening that Committee Chair, Devin Nunes, should recuse himself from "any further involvement" into President Trump’s campaign ties with Russia.

"After much consideration I believe Chairman should recuse himself from involvement in investigation/oversight of Trump campaign & transition,” Schiff tweeted on Monday evening, as Nunes was giving an interview to CNN about his visit to the White House grounds to view classified material last week.

“This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the chairman and I have worked together well for several years,” Schiff said in a statement and added that “I take this step with he knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have not he Intelligence committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters, not just to conduct the investigation.... There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee. That it was also obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning. In the interests of a fair and impartial investigation whose results will be respected by the public, the Chairman's recusal is more than warranted."

Schiff's call for Nunes to recuse himself follows that of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who on Monday said Speaker Paul Ryan should replace Nunes in order for the Russia probe to be “credible.”

“Chairman Nunes is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. “If Speaker Ryan wants the House to have a credible investigation, he needs to replace Chairman Nunes.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who also sits on the House Intelligence Committee, reiterated the call for Nunes to recuse himself, along side fellow California Democrat Eric Swalwell. Swalwell, the ranking member of an intelligence subcommittee, said, “Chairman Nunes should no longer be anywhere near this investigation, let alone leading it. 

"For the sake of our duty to independently find the truth, and for the sake of his ability to chair the committee in its other important duties, he should recuse himself from our committee's Russia investigation.”

At the same time as Schiff made his statement, Nunes spoke to CNN on Monday evening after the previously discussed revelation that the republican had visited White House grounds the day prior last week's stunning announcement that members of Trump's campaign had been "accidentally" surveiled, to view confidential documents that allegedly prove potential surveillance of Trump team members. Nunes said that he was sure the West Wing was unaware of his visit to White House grounds to view said documents.. 

Some have speculated that the White House was the source of the intelligence viewed by Nunes. He would not give details to CNN Monday evening, but maintained that he had to view the documents on White House grounds, as they could not be brought to the Capitol complex.

Nunes on Monday denied that there was anything untoward in his Tuesday visit to the White House, pushing back on reports that the venture took place at night and calling the visit “pretty common.”

“At least once a week, if not more than that, we have to go to the executive branch in order to read classified intelligence,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.  “The sun was out,” he said. “If I really wanted to I could have snuck onto the grounds late at night, but I wasn’t trying to hide.”

Nunes said he was “quite certain that no one in the West Wing knew I was there.”

But Democrats have accused Nunes of acting as an agent of the White House and say he can no longer lead a credible investigation.

Perhaps the only silver lining to come out of this is that Nunes has become the Democrats top persona non grata, diverting attention from Trump, if only for the time being.


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