Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) has temporarily stepped aside from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The decision comes as a result of the House Ethics Committee opening a probe into Nunes and whether he improperly handled classified information.
Nunes did not hold back in his statement, taking aim at those who filed the complaints, “Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power.”
“Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter. I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”
Representative Mike Conaway will take the lead on the probe now, working with Democratic Ranking Member Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA). Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, both Republicans, will also assist Conway. Gowdy previously led the House’s investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attack.
“Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe, ” Speaker Ryan said in a statement. “He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws.”
“In the meantime, it is clear that this process would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election. Chairman Nunes has offered to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and I fully support this decision. Chairman Mike Conaway, a senior member of the Committee, will now lead this investigation in the House. I am confident that he will oversee a professional investigation into Russia’s actions and follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Schiff said in a statement, “Today, Chairman Nunes announced that he will be stepping aside from the Russia investigation and passing the reins to Representative Mike Conaway.”
“I know this was not an easy decision for the Chairman, with whom I have worked well for many years. He did so in the best interests of the committee and I respect that decision. I look forward to my continued work with the Chairman on the whole host of other important issues that our committee oversees every day, in our effort to make sure that the country is protected and our civil liberties are maintained. With respect to Representative Conaway, I look forward to joining with him and putting our investigation fully back on track. The important work of investigating the Russian involvement in our election never subsided, but we have a fresh opportunity to move forward in the unified and nonpartisan way that an investigation of this seriousness demands.”
“I have been a member of the House Intelligence Committee for over eight years now, and it is a responsibility I take with the utmost seriousness. My profession as a CPA and auditor has taught me to be objective and methodical, and that is how I intend to help lead this investigation. I am confident that Ranking Member Schiff and I will be able to work together to conduct an effective, bipartisan investigation,” Conaway said in a statement.
Conaway also defended Nunes in his statement, “I must emphasize that this is a temporary position- Chairman Nunes has my full support, and I am confident these charges levied by outside activists will be proven false. I thank Speaker Ryan and Chairman Nunes for entrusting me, along with Representatives Rooney and Gowdy, with this matter of critical importance to our national security.”
Nunes was seen as an ally of President Donald Trump while working on the probe. He endorsed Trump after the businessman clinched the Republican nomination and was then appointed to Trump’s executive transition advisory team following the election.