Schiff Calls On Nunes To Recuse Himself From Russia Probe Over Trump Ties

Bill Clark/CQPHO

House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) can no longer lead a credible investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election because of his close ties to the Trump administration and must recuse himself, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) charged Monday night.

“After much consideration, and in light of the Chairman’s admission that he met with his source of information at the White House, I believe that the Chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition, as he was also a key member of the transition team,” the ranking Democrat on the committee said in a statement late Monday.

This dramatic development, which CNN reported came after a meeting with Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, came after weeks of escalating questions about Nunes’ independence. The two lawmakers have for months been looking into the extent of Russia’s influence campaign, as well as links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s campaign staffers.

Nunes confirmed earlier Monday that he reviewed confidential information with a source on White House grounds the day before going public with allegations that communications from Trump and his staffers were “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance. He did so without briefing his own committee, who has yet to see those intelligence reports.

Schiff said that Nunes’ covert maneuverings damaged his credibility and the work of the entire committee.

“This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the chairman and I have worked together well for several years; and I take this step with the knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have on the Intelligence Committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters, not just to conduct the investigation,” Schiff said in the statement.

“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the President’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the Chairman,” he added.

Schiff’s statement puts added pressure on Nunes and on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has the power to replace him as chairman.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor Monday to ask Ryan to replace the “partisan” Nunes as committee chair.

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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