Another day, and another dramatic turn in the ongoing Russia-hacking story took place moments ago when the Chair of the House Intel Committee, Devin Nunes, said he would recuse himself from the the panel's probe into Russian meddling into the US election.
Nunes said Rep. Mike Conaway, assisted by Reps. Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, will temporarily take over panel’s investigation into Russia and the 2016 election. Nunes added that the recusal will last while House Ethics Cmte reviews accusations against him he calls “politically motivated.”
Nunes will keep his other responsibilities as chairman.
His full statmeent is below.
Washington, D.C. — House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes today issued the following statement:
"Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. 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."
NBC's Bradd Jaffy adds that Nunes stepped out early from a House Intel meeting this morning; "unclear why."
Nunes stepped out early from a House Intel meeting this morning; unclear why, @kasie reports— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 6, 2017
Separately, the top House Intel Committee Adam Schiff said that he was not informed Nunes would step aside until his statement to the press. He also added that the investigation of Russian involvement in the US election needs to get back on track, and that materials viewed by Nunes at the White House are now available to the full committee.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan said Nunes has “followed all proper guidelines and laws” and “continues” to have his trust. But, he added, “it is clear that this process would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election.” He said he’s confident that Conaway will oversee a “professional investigation” into Russia’s actions.
Here is Ryan's full statement on Nunes' recusal:
Speaker Ryan Statement on Chairman Nunes
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today released the following statement:
“Devin 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. 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. In the meantime, it is clear that this process would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election. Chairman Nunes has offered to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and I fully support this decision. Chairman Mike Conaway, a senior member of the Committee, will now lead this investigation in the House. I am confident that he will oversee a professional investigation into Russia’s actions and follow the facts wherever they lead.”