Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) on Tuesday became the first Republican lawmaker to unequivocally call for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to recuse himself from investigating Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
“Absolutely,” Jones told the Hill when asked if Nunes should step down.
“How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? You can’t keep your credibility!” he continued.
Other Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), have criticized Nunes for appearing overly friendly to the White House as he oversees a probe that involves looking into the ties between Trump campaign staffers and Russian officials, but stopped short of asking for his recusal.
All three have previously broken with GOP leadership and the Trump administration, with Jones becoming the only Republican co-sponsor of a bill to create an independent commission to investigate Russia’s meddling in the election. Jones was also only one of two GOP lawmakers to ask the Treasury Department to release Trump’s tax returns.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Republican re-upped his call for an independent commission, telling the Hill it’s “the only way you can bring integrity to the process.”
These calls follow the revelation that Nunes secretly met with a source on White House grounds a day before announcing that he received intelligence reports he said showed incidental collection of communications from Trump and his transition staffers.
The House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and a growing number of Democrats have requested Nunes’ recusal, but neither he nor House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have shown signs of moving in that direction.