WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — The Latest on an investigation into purported ties between Trump associates and Russia (all times local):
The chairman of the House intelligence committee investigating Russian activities during the presidential election says he’s not going to step down.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., asked reporters, “Why would I?” when they asked whether he was stepping down in response to growing calls from some lawmakers. He dismissed those comments as “a lot of politics.”
Nunes is facing increasing pressure from Democrats to step away because he’s seen as being too close to the White House, especially after he went to the White House grounds to review secret reports.
Sen. John McCain says House intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes must explain why he went to the White House alone to review intelligence critical to a bipartisan congressional investigation on Russia.
McCain tells CBS “This Morning”: “I’ve been around for quite a while, and I’ve never heard of any such thing.”
A spokesman for Nunes has said the congressman went to the White House because the classified documents still belonged to the executive branch and couldn’t be moved. Democrats say they should have been invited and briefed on the same specifics.
McCain, an Arizona conservative and critic of President Donald Trump, said Nunes must divulge the identity of the source to rule out political influence. He said: “Something’s got to change, otherwise the whole effort in the House of Representatives will lose credibility.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the House intelligence committee, is calling on Chairman Devin Nunes to step down from the panel.
Speier had already said Nunes should recuse himself from the panel’s Russia investigation. On Tuesday, she told CNN that Nunes should go farther.
She said: “I’m asking for him to step down in the interest of our integrity.”
Nunes has acknowledged reviewing information on the White House grounds a day before he told reporters that Trump and his associates may have been caught up in “incidental” federal monitoring of foreign targets.
Speier said that Nunes’ actions raise questions about whether the House committee’s investigation can be unbiased and independent.
“If you become a White House whisperer, you are not independent,” she said.
A Republican senator says the House intelligence chairman has “put his objectivity in question” when it comes to investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina conservative, stopped short of saying whether Rep. Devin Nunes should recuse himself from the probe. But Graham tells the NBC “Today Show” that “most Americans want to know, who did he meet with and what did he see?”
Nunes has claimed there is evidence of incidental federal surveillance of Trump associates during the campaign. But he hasn’t said where he got the information other to acknowledge he was briefed on the details at the White House, raising questions about politically motivations.
Graham said: “I think he put his objectivity in question at the very least.”