Rep. Devin Nunes announced Thursday that he would recuse himself from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. The announcement came after the House Ethics Committee released a statement saying that Nunes himself was under investigation for possibly making “unauthorized disclosures of classified information,” a charge the California Republican denied.
“I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter,” he said in a statement.
“This matter,” of course, being allegations from Democrats that Nunes can no longer be trusted to lead the investigation in an impartial manner. Those allegations stem from Nunes’s association with the Trump transition team and his controversial trip to the White House two weeks ago, where he viewed – and later shared with the president – classified intelligence material that proved Trump’s associates were caught by incidental surveillance.
Nunes came under intense criticism in the weeks following that episode, but the firestorm reached new heights on Monday with a stunning revelation.
A report from Bloomberg View revealed that Nunes’s secret intelligence confirmed that former national security adviser Susan Rice was responsible for “unmasking” the names of Trump aides caught in the incidental surveillance. Democrats immediately accused the White House of using Rice as a distraction, and the calls for Nunes to step aside ultimately grew too loud to ignore.
“I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” Nunes said.
All things being equal, this is probably for the best, but Republicans need to be careful that they don’t give in to every hysterical cry from the left. Yes, we need this investigation to proceed without distractions, but we can’t have principled officials stepping aside every time they say or do something that goes against the narrative the Democrats are trying to build.
The Susan Rice revelation is no distraction; right now, in fact, it is one of the most damning pieces of evidence we’ve learned. Either Rice and Barack Obama were taking intelligence reports and using them for political purposes…or they have serious, conclusive evidence that Trump colluded with Moscow. And if they have that, then why in the hell is Trump the president?
It makes no sense. None of this makes any sense. And when nothing makes sense, it means there’s something wrong with the story we’re being fed.
It’s time to find out once and for all what that something is.