House intel chief steps aside from Russia probe over ethics charges – which he calls a left-wing plot to smear him

Thursday, April 6, 2017
By Paul Martin

Democrats said Nunes should recuse himself from the panel after he briefed the president and the press on classified documents
Nunes says the surveillance materials included improper references to members of the Trump transition team
Did not say that Trump was spied on by the Obama administration – the collection of information on Trump and his aides was ‘incidental’
After being slapped with ethics violations allegations, Nunes said Thursday that he was putting Republican Rep. Mike Conaway in charge of the Russia probe
Said the installment is not permanent and he will take back over once cleared

By Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent
6 April 2017

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes gave into Democratic demands on Thursday and stepped away from the committee’s Russia probe.

Nunes said in a statement that he was putting Republican Rep. Mike Conaway in charge of the investigation until ethics charges against him are cleared up.

The charges were brought by ‘leftwing activist groups’ and are ‘entirely false and politically motivated,’ Nunes said in a statement.

Still, the congressman said he believes it is in the ‘best interests’ of the intel panel for him to ‘temporarily’ put Conaway in charge.

Republican Reps.Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, and Tom Rooney will assist Conaway, Nunes said.

Nunes has been accused of ethics violations for disclosing information from classified documents he saw to the press.

The House intelligence chief briefed reporters on Capitol Hill, and again at the White House, on materials he obtained that he said improperly unmasked the names of individuals serving in President Donald Trump’s transitional government between the Republican’s election and inauguration.

Prior to his public statements, Nunes spoke to House Speaker Paul Ryan about the documents. Later that day he made a presentation to the president.

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