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Despite Growing Opposition, Devin Nunes Says He'll Continue to Lead House Russia Inquiry

Rep. Devin Nunes speaks to CNN on Tuesday about his role in the Russian inquiry.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes is responsible for looking into the Trump team’s alleged ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Nunes himself, however, served on President Trump’s transition team and has been accused of leading a biased investigation because of his close ties to the Trump White House. On Tuesday, new reports cast further suspicion on Nunes’ impartiality and prompted one Republican representative to call for Nunes to recuse himself.

The first report came from The Washington Post, which revealed that “[t]he Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.”

The report continues:

Yates and other former intelligence officials had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, a hearing that Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) abruptly canceled. Yates was the deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration and served as the acting attorney general in the first days of the Trump administration. …

On Tuesday, Nunes declined to say if the White House had asked him to cancel the hearing.

Reporters also asked Nunes if the Trump administration sought to prevent Yates from testifying, to which he replied: “Look, you guys are just speculating. I’m sorry, whenever there’s time we’ll do a press conference.’’

In a piece also published Tuesday, Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker asserted that the White House has been coordinating with Nunes.

“The evidence is now clear that the White House and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have worked together to halt what was previously billed as a sweeping investigation of Russian interference in last year’s election,” Lizza wrote. He highlighted numerous incidents in the past month in which there was coordination between the White House and Nunes, including on the issue of incidental collection of communications.

Lizza wrote:

Last Tuesday evening, Nunes went to a secure National Security Council facility on the grounds of the White House and reviewed intelligence reports, with the assistance of one or more unknown officials . … The following morning, without informing any other members of the House Intelligence Committee about what he had learned, Nunes went back to the White House and briefed the President on those reports. He held press conferences, one at the Capitol and one outside the West Wing, before and after his meeting with Trump.

Despite this barrage of news surrounding his relationship with the White House, Nunes says he will remain at the helm of the House Intelligence Committee. Early Tuesday, he spoke with CNN reporters about his commitment to the investigation (watch the full video at the top of this page).

The New York Times reports:

Representative Devin Nunes of California said he would continue to lead the House investigation despite accusations from Democrats — including his committee’s ranking member, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California — that he is too close to President Trump to conduct an impartial inquiry.

“Why would I not?” Mr. Nunes told reporters Tuesday morning. Pressed about concerns from Democrats, he added, “That sounds like their problem.”

Unfortunately for Nunes, it is no longer just the Democrats’ problem. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, told The Hill Tuesday that Nunes should recuse himself from leading the investigation.

“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,” Jones said. “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.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, continued to support Nunes.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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