The House Intelligence Committee has a much better shot at conducting an impartial probe into President Trump’s links to Russia in the absence of Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.
Nunes recused himself Thursday morning from the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, citing the House Ethics Committee’s probe into whether he disclosed classified information.
Pelosi said that with Nunes out of the picture, she has more confidence in the process.
“In a bipartisan way, the House Intelligence Committee should play the role that it needs to play in all of this. And I don’t have any reason to think that they wouldn’t,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
“I did have plenty reason to think that [Nunes] should not be in that role, both because of his role in the Trump transition and because of his erratic and bizarre behavior as chairman of the committee.”
Nunes lit a storm of controversy last month when he briefed President Trump about details of the Russia investigation — a probe that partly examines Trump’s ties to Moscow — without first informing the other members of the full committee.
It was later reported that the new details were brought to Nunes’s attention by senior White House officials, leading to plenty of questions from Democrats about why he would need to brief the administration on things it already knew.
Several groups, including MoveOn.org, filed complaints with the Ethics Committee urging an examination into whether Nunes revealed sensitive material in taking his story to the press.
In a statement, Nunes portrayed the investigation as a witch hunt prompted by “false” accusations from “leftwing activist groups.”
“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,” Nunes said.
Nonetheless, the 43-year-old chairman stepped away from the Russia probe in “the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress.”
In his stead, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) will lead the investigation, with help from Reps. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).
Gowdy is no stranger to politically charged investigations. As the head of the special committee on Benghazi, the former federal prosecutor was the leading face of the Republican broadsides against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE over the deadly 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic post in the embattled Libyan city.
Still, Pelosi on Thursday suggested the Democrats don’t view Gowdy’s history on the Benghazi panel against him as he assumes an enhanced role in the Russia probe.
“He’s a member of the committee. I think he understands his responsibility there,” she said. “And we’ll see how he goes forward.”