Nunes steps down from Russian Federation probe, cites 'entirely false' ethics accusations

Rep. Devin Nunes Steps Down From Russia Investigation Amid Ethics Probe

Devin Nunes, the head of a congressional probe into alleged Russian meddling in the USA presidential election, said on Thursday he would temporarily step aside to face an ethics inquiry.

The Californian congressman said he felt forced to step down due to "entirely false" accusations filed against him with the office of congressional ethics.

"The charges are. being levelled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of USA citizens and other abuses of power".

Nunes said that it was in the intelligence committee's best interests for him to hand over leadership of the probe to Conaway during the ethics panel's inquiry.

Nunes repeatedly had said he did not intend to step aside, but there have been questions about his ability to lead an independent investigation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan defended Nunes on Thursday, saying he "has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does".

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Lawmakers "take an oath that they will not disclose classified information", said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit that promotes government accountability and transparency.

The full 10-member committee is investigating the allegations, a departure from the usual procedure of having a smaller subcommittee handle a probe, and an indication of the seriousness of the claims. "Until we know who gave Nunes the info that night on the White House grounds, and until we have a resolution of the question whether the President authorized Nunes to disclose the details to the press, this is a question that can not be answered definitively". He will continue as committee chairman. Ryan also stated he agreed that the ethics inquiry involving the chairman, would serve as a disruption for the Russian election probe being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee.

A Republican congressman and head of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes found himself at the center of scandal earlier this month when it emerged that he had shared information on the investigation into the Trump campaign with the White House.

Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee probing Donald Trump's Russian Federation links, is to step down "temporarily".

He wanted to quiz the pair on "additional information" that had come up but Democrats accused Mr Nunes of deliberately holding up the investigation. Nunes announced Thursday he was stepping aside from his role leading the House investigation into the matter. "He did so in the best interests of the committee and I respect that decision", Schiff said. But since then, his interface with the White House, his access of this classified material at the White House has brought so much pressure that they felt clearly they couldn't fight those charges and have him continue to do it going forward. He called the charges "false and politically motivated".

House Speaker Paul Ryan heaped praise on Conaway and his ability to lead the Russian Federation investigation. Worse, Nunes had apparently lied about the timeline and his source, whom he had reportedly referred to as a "whistle-blower-type person".

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