Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has temporarily recused himself from his panel's investigation into Russia's potential interference in U.S. elections. Nunes was pressured to step away from the Russia probe after reports suggested he was being influenced by the White House and Democrats accused him of improperly releasing information into the investigation.
Last month, Nunes held a press conference in which he claimed to have evidence to suggest that Trump's transition team had been spied on by Obama intelligence officials - news which "somewhat vindicated" Trump for tweeting an unsubstantiated claim that he had been wiretapped. Democrats on the committee were frustrated that Nunes did not share that information with them before going public.
In his statement Thursday, Nunes explained that several complaints have been filed against him with the Office of Government Ethics. Those claims, he said, are false and baseless. Yet, in light of the controversy, he believed that stepping down from the investigation was in the best interest of the committee.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a senior member of the committee, will now lead the investigation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan offered the following statement after Nunes' announcement, noting that Nunes' still has his trust.
In a press conference on Capitol Hill following Nunes’ statement, Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he “appreciated” the chairman stepping away from the investigation. The Democrat knows it was a “difficult decision” for Nunes, but he knows it will allow the committee to have a “fresh start.”
The White House says this is a matter for the House to consider, so they have declined further comment.This post has been updated.