Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Devin Nunes announced this morning that he will be removing himself from the Committee’s investigation into Russian interference of the U.S. election. Nunes has faced calls for recusal from HPSCI Ranking Member Adam Schiff and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others, for his conduct in announcing possible incidental collection of Trump transition members’ information to the press and ostensibly briefing President Donald Trump on the matter, though reports later indicated that the intelligence reports in question had in fact been leaked to Nunes from the White House.
Nunes’s statement announcing his decision to step down reads as follows:
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 the 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.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued 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 the 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.
According to the New York Times, Schiff has stated that Nunes’s decision to step aside is in the “best interests of the investigation” and “will allow us to have a fresh start moving forward.”
The House Ethics Committee has also released a statement confirming that it is examining Nunes for his possible disclosures of classified information:
Update: Representative Schiff has issued the following statement:
I know the Chairman's decision to recuse himself wasn't easy. I look forward to our continued work together on other vital intel issues. pic.twitter.com/Ym5GYdkqcN
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 6, 2017