Following weeks of criticism over his bizarre (and likely unethical) behavior, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes has stepped away from the investigation into Trump-Russia ties. Nunes had effectively shut down the probe after an “Inspector Clouseau Investigation,” which he said yielded “incidental” and legal surveillance of the Trump team. Soon enough, his sources were revealed to have come from within the White House, and his Democratic colleagues were irked that he rushed to brief Donald Trump but left them hanging.
Politico now reveals that Nunes (temporary) departure won’t affect his role as committee chair. Yet this investigation will now be led by three other GOP members — Trey Gowdy (SC), Michael Conaway (TX), and Tom Rooney (FL.). Not only that, but the House Ethics Committee is now investigating Nunes’ own behavior related to the probe, and he has issued a statement:
“Several left-wing 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.”
The Daily Beast nabbed a response from the (bipartisan) House Ethics Committee, which acknowledges its review of Nunes’ actions:
“The committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”
Nunes insists that the charges against him are “baseless,” and he wishes to dismiss these “false claims” as soon as possible by meeting with the House Ethics Committee. He appears confident that he’ll be restored as leader of the Trump-Russia probe in a speedy fashion, although he certainly wasn’t quick to pull his Democratic colleagues out of the dark after holding multiple vague press conferences. In fact, Nunes still hasn’t told them exactly what he read in these surveillance reports.
However, Nunes’ sidelining may work some good if hearings resume. The committee’s Democrats didn’t have much luck while hosting a Wednesday briefing from the FBI’s double agent who helped ensnare Russian spies. All of the GOP members refused to attend the discussion. Yep, the partisan divide remains strong, and the House investigation sits in a shambles.
House Speaker Paul Ryan made his feelings known on the ethics investigation of Nunes’ behavior: “[I]t is clear that this [ethics] process would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election.” Ryan must not think the possibility of White House collusion equals trouble, right?