House intel committee chair steps away from Russia probe

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Rep. Devin Nunes is temporarily recusing himself from the House Intelligence Committee's probe into Russian Federation and the Trump team.

USA foreign intelligence activities are classified, but the president can authorize the release of information about them.

In his statement today, Nunes said that he is stepping aside from the Russian Federation probe because "Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics".

He said he will continue fulfilling other duties with the committee.

What did Mr Nunes allegedly do wrong?

On March 28, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Democracy 21 submitted a formal request that the Office of Congressional Ethics "conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether Representative Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, disclosed classified information to the public on March 22, 2017 in violation of the House ethics rules".

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Earlier today, Nunes announced he will temporarily step down from his role as Intelligence Committee chairman for the investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The day after the visit to the White House grounds, Nunes briefed the press and the President on his findings. Comey said the investigation included looking into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. "If she does, we'd be happy to have her come in".

Mr Nunes' Democratic colleagues on the panel were furious that he had not shared such information with them before going public.

A Republican congressman tried to defend Nunes by saying he works for the White House and answers to Trump, which as Oliver emphatically pointed out, is definitively not true. "What's important is that this committee does its investigation on a bipartisan basis to get to the bottom of things and go investigate all things Russian Federation".

But Democrats questioned whether the investigation into Russia's alleged role in the election could proceed objectively.

Conaway's ascendance immediately drew attention to his statement earlier this year expressing skepticism about the subject of the investigation. The letter is signed by 20 House Democrats from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Now he is, at least temporarily, out of the picture. Several organizations have filed such complaints with the independent watchdog group. Mr Nunes, at times, seemed out of his depth on the big political stage.

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A watchdog group says it believes Republican Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) has gravely violated House ethics rules governing classified information and should be investigated immediately. The committee only considers complaints filed or endorsed by House members and can recommend punishments.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee says the White House "selectively and surreptitiously" gave intelligence documents to the committee's chairman that should have been provided to the entire congressional panel.

On March 24, Nunes told reporters he had made a decision to "postpone" a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan were scheduled to testify about Moscow's alleged election meddling and possible ties between Trump surrogates and Russian officials.

Burr says he has not yet seen the materials Nunes and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee saw at the White House, but he will.

"It will allow us to have a fresh start moving forward", he told reporters.

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