Nunes refuses to recuse himself under growing bipartisan pressure
On Tuesday, Congressman Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) joined more than 170 Democrats to co-sponsor a measure that would create an independent commission to investigate Russian interference.
“If anything has shown that we need a commission, this has done it by the way he has acted. That's the only way you can bring integrity to the process. The integrity of the committee looking into this has been tainted," Jones said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) was asked by CNBC if Nunes should recuse himself from the investigation, or if he knew the identity of Nunes’ source.
Ryan responded curtly to both questions with, "No and no."
Nunes has also refused to recuse himself Tuesday, telling reporters “why would I?”according to the Associated Press.
Last Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California) announced that the intelligence community “incidentally” intercepted information on President Donald Trump’s transition team.
Nunes is leading the House panel’s investigation into whether there was Russian interference in the 2016 election, and by extension, any possible collusion with the Trump team during that time.
On Monday, Nunes told CNN that he had gone to the White House grounds to meet with an unnamed source and review reports. However, Nunes says he was not in the White House itself.
House intel chair admits he doesn’t know ‘for sure’ if Trump team was surveilled https://t.co/dfpVEyGRin— RT America (@RT_America) March 24, 2017
Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, says he went onto the grounds because he needed a secure location where he could access the reports, which are only distributed within the executive branch.
"Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source," Langer said Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Nunes told Bloomberg on Monday that he went to the White House because he didn’t “have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress.”
Upon finding the documents, Nunes said he copied their identifying numbers so he could formally request them for the rest of his committee to view. Nunes says other members of his committee would be able to read the documents as soon as this week.
He has not named his source and did not indicate that it was from the White House itself.
“We don’t talk about sources at this committee. We want more people to come forward,” Nunes said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
At a press briefing Monday, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer if Nunes’ source could have come from the White House itself. Spicer said he did not know anything about the meeting beyond what Nunes has said publically.
“I'm not going to get into who he met with or why he met with them. I think that's something that he had made very clear, and I'll let him answer it,” Spicer said.
Democrats have criticized Nunes, who served on Trump's transition team's executive committee, for his connection to the White House during the investigation. On Monday, several Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, called for Nunes to step down as the head of the House Intelligence Committee.
"Chairman Nunes is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth. You cannot have the person in charge of an impartial investigation be partial to one side. It's an inherent contradiction," Schumer said, according to The Hill.
Schumer called for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to replace Nunes on the committee in order to have “a credible investigation.”
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California), a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, also released a statement Monday calling for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.
“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," Schiff said.
"This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the Chairman and I have worked together well for several years," he continued.
After much consideration I believe Chairman should recuse himself from involvement in investigation/oversight of Trump campaign & transition pic.twitter.com/jpfA1x80Si— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 27, 2017
Other members of the House Intelligence Committee have also called for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.
If Congress is going to conduct an independent #RussianHacking investigation, Chairman Nunes shouldn't be a part of it. Time to recuse.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) March 27, 2017
Chairman Devin Nunes should recuse himself from the House Intelligence Cmte investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) March 27, 2017