House GOP leader defends Nunes: He 'has a right to talk to anybody'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue MORE (R-Calif.) on Tuesday defended Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesVoters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE's (R-Calif.) contacts with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associate amid the chamber's mounting impeachment inquiry.

McCarthy said at a press conference that “Nunes has a right to talk to anybody” and blasted a report that stated the House Intelligence Committee ranking member had gone to Vienna last year to meet with Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general.

“I don’t have a problem with Devin talking to individuals. What was claimed about Devin on CNN, on a national news media, is that he went to Vienna to meet with individuals,” McCarthy told reporters, citing the report published last last month.

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"He was not in Vienna. That was a lie, just like many lies before, and it seems like a perpetual thing of what we do," he added of disputing certain reporting.

When asked if Nunes should discuss what happened on the calls, which were highlighted in a report released by the Intelligence panel earlier Tuesday, McCarthy said that is a decision that should be left up to Nunes.

"That's a question for Devin, but Devin has the right to talk to people," he said. "There's nothing wrong with what Devin has done except, once again, try to get accused of something. It is a simple smokescreen."

The Intelligence Committee report showed phone logs indicating that Nunes and a member of his staff were in contact with Giuliani and the lawyer's associate Lev Parnas in April and May amid efforts by Trump's attorney to get Ukraine to launch politically charged probes involving the Bidens and the 2016 presidential election.

Giuliani, who has been a central figure in the impeachment inquiry, is reportedly under investigation by federal prosecutors, while Parnas was indicted this year on allegations of violating campaign finance laws.

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Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Calif.), stated they found the contacts uncovered in the report Tuesday “deeply concerning.”

Nunes has not weighed in yet concerning the calls.

The Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Tuesday evening to advance its impeachment report to the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with weighing whether actions detailed in the report rise to the level of impeaching the president.

The Judiciary panel is slated to hold its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday.

This story was updated at 10:20 p.m.