First GOP lawmaker calls for Nunes to recuse himself

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) on Tuesday told The Hill that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should "absolutely" recuse himself from his panel's investigation into Russia's meddling in last year’s election.

Jones, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who frequently bucks leadership, is the first Republican in Congress to call on Nunes to step aside.

"How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? You can't keep your credibility," Jones said just off the House floor. 

“If anything has shown that we need a commission, this has done it by the way he has acted. That's the only way you can bring integrity to the process. The integrity of the committee looking into this has been tainted."

Jones is the only Republican co-sponsor on a measure from Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) that would establish an independent commission to probe Russian interference in the U.S. election. 

Nunes on Tuesday brushed aside calls to recuse himself, asking why he should.

Democrats — including the committee’s ranking member, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Tech: Lawmakers zero in on Zuckerberg | AT&T, DOJ preview trial arguments | First lady vows to tackle cyberbullying Schiff: Cambridge Analytica CEO's mocking description of GOP 'all too accurate' Cambridge Analytica whistleblower to speak to House Intel Dems MORE (Calif.) — have called for Nunes to remove himself from the investigation after the revelation that he secretly visited the White House grounds the day before announcing he'd been shown evidence of incidental surveillance of President Trump’s transition team.

Nunes described calls for him to step down as “politics.”

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Overnight Regulation: FTC to probe Facebook over user data | FDA takes step to regulating flavors in tobacco products | Congress may include background check measure in funding bill Judge rules FEC wrongly dismissed complaint against conservative group MORE (R-Wis.) signaled Tuesday that he was standing behind Nunes.

"I don't care what Mr. Ryan says. That's his right to feel that way. I know how the people out here feel," Jones said. "When you have a committee chairman that bypasses the committee and goes to the White House, when you have a president that has a cloud over their head, that's not smart.

"What Mr. Nunes has done is make it more political. Not less political, but more political."

Katie Bo Williams contributed.

Updated at 4:52 p.m.