Texas Congressman takes over investigation into Russian meddling

Posted April 07, 2017

Ryan also applauded Nunes's decision to step down, saying it would be a distraction if stayed on the investigation while dealing with the ethics complaint. "We've been continuing to develop our witness lists, to work out some of the logistics in terms of how we bring people before the committee, what the process will be".

Conaway, a Texas Republican, who will now lead the Russian Federation investigation, said he hopes to work with the committee's Democrats to get the Russian Federation investigation back on track, but said he'll need their cooperation. Devin Nunes served on the Trump transition committee. GOP Reps. Mike Conaway of Texas, with help from Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC and Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, will temporarily take charge of the investigation, said Speaker Paul Ryan.

But as the current chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Conaway generally maintains a low profile overseeing commodity and nutrition programs that keep him far away from the national spotlight.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that he doesn't know Conaway, but he heard he was well-respected.

Democrats have criticized Nunes, a member of Trump's transition team, for his handling of the Russian Federation investigation after he received information at the White House, held a news conference about it and briefed Trump on it, all before sharing it with other members of his committee. Democrats were outraged that Nunes had briefed the press and the president-a potential target of the F.B.I. probe-without providing his information or sources to his fellow committee members.

Nunes blamed a smear campaign for his decision to step down as chair of the investigation.

A White House spokesman declined to comment. "This is an internal matter for the House", he said.

Left-leaning groups like MoveOn.org and Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington immediately filed claims with the Office of Congressional Ethics, claiming that Nunes had violated the Espionage Act.

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EWING: That's right. Nunes and the House speaker, Paul Ryan, both defended himself - and on Ryan's account, Nunes - this morning, saying they have no doubt that he acted above board and that he'll be able to get back into this.

"I learned about it as you all did when the chairman issued a statement", Schiff said. Critics said he could simply no longer lead a fair investigation.

In Cummings' statement, he also pointed out that he had sent a letter last week to White House counsel Donald McGahn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster "asking when they became aware that their own staff members reportedly contacted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, facilitated his entry into the White House complex, and provided him with access to review classified information".

The ethics complaints against Nunes stem from a controversial series of actions he took on March 22.

Trump then said the information "somewhat" vindicated claims he made on March 4 that President Barack Obama had illegally "wiretapped" his election campaign.

The California Republican cited ethics charges filed by "several left-wing activist groups" as the reason for his decision. "High quality", Trump said.

In May, acting along with nine other House committee chairmen, Conaway endorsed Trump for president.

US foreign intelligence activities are classified, but the president can authorize the release of information about them.