House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes to step aside From Russia investigation
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
BY DANIELLA SILVA, NBC News
(NBC News) - House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday he will temporarily step aside from the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election after coming under harsh criticism.
Nunes, R-California, has come under fire after claiming last month that a secret source had provided him with information suggesting President Donald Trump and his associates may have been "monitored" by U.S. intelligence during his transition. It later emerged that Nunes went to the white House to read the documents about the alleged surveillance.
Nunes later backed down from the explosive claim, saying he could not be sure that Trump and his associates were "monitored." Democrats had called for him to recuse himself from the intelligence investigation into Russian meddling of the election and any potential ties to Trump or his associates.
The Republican lawmaker said in a statement morning that he believed it was in the "best interests" of the committee and Congress for him to temporarily step aside.
"Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics," Nunes said in the statement. "The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power."
Still, he added that despite the "baseless of these charges" he would be stepping aside, and Representative Mike Conaway, along assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, would temporarily take charge of the investigation.