U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said on Monday the committee's chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the panel's investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
Chairman Devin Nunes announced earlier in the day that he visited the White House the night before announcing on Wednesday that he had information that indicated some of President Donald Trump's associates may have been subjected to some level of intelligence activity before Trump took office on Jan. 20.
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The Republican congressman said he did not meet with Trump or his aides when he viewed intelligence information on the White House grounds. The day after Nunes viewed the intelligence, he briefed Trump on its contents and held a news conference.
The disclosure renewed calls for an independent committee to investigate the Russia ties.
Democrats have said Nunes, who was a member of Trump's transition team, can no longer run a credible investigation of Russian hacking, the U.S. election and any potential involvement by Trump associates. Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi last week called Nunes "a willing stooge of Trump."
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to replace Nunes as chairman of the intelligence committee.
"He has not been operating like someone who is interested in getting to the unvarnished truth. His actions look like those of someone who is interested in protecting the president and his party," Schumer said.
Nunes 'fair and credible,' says Ryan office
Ryan has "full confidence" in the investigation led by Nunes, a Ryan spokesperson said on Monday.
"Speaker Ryan has full confidence that Chairman Nunes is conducting a thorough, fair and credible investigation," spokesperson AshLee Strong said in an emailed statement.
When Nunes disclosed the intelligence reports last week, he said what he reviewed had nothing to do with Russia, which could suggest that Trump associates were in touch with other foreign targets of U.S. intelligence surveillance in November, December or January.
"The chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that Trump Tower had been wiretapped," Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said.
It is unclear exactly what documents Nunes reviewed.
Nunes and Schiff have asked the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency for the names of officials who were cited in intelligence reports. The committee has said it is getting some of what it requested, but has not received everything.
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