Ethics complaints pile up and Nunes steps down from Russia probe

From Reuters and WiG reports

The chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee said he was temporarily stepping down from the panel’s probe into allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election while he answers ethics complaints filed against him.

Republican Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement that “entirely false and politically motivated” charges that he made unauthorized disclosures of classified information had been lodged against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Nunes, who was on Donald Trump’s presidential transition team following the 2016 election, has been sharply criticized by Democrats for his handling of the Russia probe after he received information at the White House, held a news conference about it and then went back to the White House to brief Trump, all before sharing it with other members of his committee.

The Russia probe is investigating whether Moscow hacked emails of senior Democrats during the election campaign and released embarrassing information to hurt Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and benefit Trump. Russia denies the allegations.

The House Ethics Committee said in a statement it had decided to investigate allegations that Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information in violation of House rules, the law and other standards of conduct.

Nunes said he had decided to step aside from the Russia investigation in order to fight the allegations and wanted to speak with the ethics office as soon as possible “to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”

The top Democrat on the committee, Representative Adam Schiff, said Nunes’ decision to step aside from the investigation was made in “the best interests of the committee and I respect that decision.”

U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks with reporters about the Committee’s Russia investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas


Here’s the reaction from Jo Comerford, campaign director for Civic Action. and other public interest groups filed federal ethics complaints:

Devin Nunes’ decision to step aside from leading the House Intelligence probe into Donald Trump’s entanglements with Russia is another important step forward for the rule of law and is a people-powered victory for the resistance—but it does not go far enough.

Amid the near-constant drumbeat of news related to the Trump/Russia scandal, Congress must create a special, independent commission to lead an investigation, and the administration should appoint a special prosecutor charged with getting at the truth about Trump and his associates’ possible collusion with Russia.

In announcing his resignation, Nunes claimed that ‘false’ ethics complaints filed by public interest groups were the reason he is stepping down. But in doing so, Nunes failed to rebut any of the allegations or dispute any of the facts included in those complaints, including the complaint filed by MoveOn, which raises real and serious concerns about potential violations of law by Nunes.

We will hold other Republicans who attempt to thwart real, independent investigations accountable. In the days ahead, MoveOn will launch a public tracking site for every House Republican who is voting to hide the the truth about Trump and his associates’ ties to Russia from the American people.