Democrats want House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to step aside. Sen. Chuck Schumer said that for a credible investigation into the possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, House Speaker Paul Ryan should replace Nunes. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats have also joined a chorus demanding that the committee chair either recuse himself or resign from his chairmanship, citing gross constitutional negligence. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, also called on Nunes to recuse himself. Yet, the chairman said he’s not going anywhere.
Nunes also is responsible for this fiasco. Last week, he decided to have a brief presser about how members of Trump’s transition team were unmasked, how the intelligence community had incidentally collected information about Americans involved with the transition, and how that information was disseminated in intelligence reports, despite having little to no value. Nunez then rushed to the White House to brief President Trump on the findings. Democrats on the committee were not consulted about the new finding, which sent them into a fit (via CNN):
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to committee members Thursday, a Democrat on the panel told reporters, coming the day after Nunes told the public and the President that communications of him and associates may have been collected by intelligence agencies before telling Democratic members of the committee.
His apology comes after a day of fierce criticism from Democrats for how Nunes handled the news Wednesday.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an "outside non-partisan commission" to handle the investigation into Russia meddling in the US election last year.
"I think he has demonstrated that there is some question about his respect for the committee," she told reporters Thursday, adding, "I think he sent a signal that as a member of the Trump transition team himself, he probably should not be intricately involved in this investigation."
Pelosi said Nunes was either duped or a "willing stooge" who's committed a stunt.
Now, he says that the names were mostly masked, but that it was quite clear from the contents as to who was being described concerning those involved with Trump’s transition efforts:
Nunes was describing his findings as he defended himself on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" from a wave of criticism following the revelation he visited White House grounds last week to access the information.
"It was pretty clear who they were talking about," Nunes said, adding, "For the most part, they were masked."
He said other names were unmasked and he wanted to get to the bottom of why they were.
Nunes said he had to view the classified documents, which he stressed were unrelated to Russia, in an Executive Branch location because they intelligence community had not yet provided them to Congress.
Nunes added that he did not coordinate the revelation of these new findings with the Trump White House.
All I’ll say is that the optics for this is terrible.