Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) said Thursday that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should relinquish his role as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
“Nunes has failed in his responsibilities as chairman,” he said in a statement Thursday. "I strongly believe that Chairman Nunes should step down immediately.”
“It’s clear that Chairman Nunes, a member of the Trump transition, is still playing for the president’s team at the expense of properly performing his job.”
Payne added Nunes is “incapable of leading a fair investigation into Russia’s election interference and any ties between Russia and this administration.”
Nunes, whose committee is investigating Russia's meddling in the presidential election and potential ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow, told the press Wednesday he had seen documents suggesting that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of Trump’s transition team.
“Details about U.S. persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports,” he told reporters, later briefing president Trump on the information.
“I want to be clear — none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team,” added Nunes, noting he believed the information was obtained legally.
Nunes’s remarks added a new wrinkle to the controversy over Trump’s claims former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBarack Obama wishes a happy 58th birthday to 'best friend' Michelle Voting rights is a constitutional right: Failure is not an option Florida looms large in Republican 2024 primary MORE wiretapped Trump Tower in New York City last year. Trump said he felt "somewhat vindicated" by Nunes's announcement, although the California lawmaker stressed that he still did not believe that Trump was wiretapped by his predecessor.
He also said it was unclear whether information incidentally collected originated in Trump Tower.
Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence panel, voiced frustration with Nunes’s move Wednesday.
“If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been,” he said in statement, criticizing the “profound irregularity” of Nunes’s handling of the situation.
Nunes said Thursday he regrets informing Trump of the surveillance revelations before updating the committee he chairs.
“At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you don’t,” he told reporters, adding he could not show the panel information that was given to him by a source.
Nunes reportedly apologized earlier Thursday to Schiff and other committee Democrats who were offended he went public before speaking with them.