Schumer: Ryan must remove Nunes as Intel chairman

Schumer: Ryan must remove Nunes as Intel chairman
© Greg Nash

 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt Schumer lashes out at Trump over 'blue states' remark: 'What a disgrace' MORE (D-N.Y.) demanded Thursday that Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: With less than two months to go, race for the White House heats up Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (R-Calif.) be removed as House Intelligence Committee chairman amid controversy over the potential release of a GOP memo that alleges "shocking" abuses of power by the FBI and Justice Department.

Schumer sent a letter to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAt indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates Peterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district MORE (R-Wis.) questioning why he hasn't reined in Nunes, who compiled the GOP memo, and if he or any member of House GOP leadership consulted with Nunes or helped plan or draft the memo.

"I urge you to answer the preceding questions; remove Chairman Nunes from the [House Intelligence Committee]; withdraw support for the release of the ... memo," Schumer wrote.

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He added that Ryan should also "insist on supporting swift passage of legislation protecting Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation from political interference."

Schumer's letter comes roughly an hour after House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (D-Calif.) similarly demanded that Nunes be removed from his spot atop the House Intelligence Committee.

Ryan responded later in the day during a press conference at the GOP retreat in West Virginia that Democrats are "just playing politics and they’re just looking for a political distraction" by demanding that he remove Nunes from his post. 

Ryan also defended the memo as Congress trying to fulfill its "oversight" responsibilities and trying to "guard people's civil liberties."
 
"This memo is not an indictment of the FBI or the Justice Department. It does not impugn the Mueller investigation," he said.
 
Nunes has been under growing Democratic fire, as well as skepticism from some Republicans, over a memo that alleges "shocking" surveillance abuses by the Justice Department, according to GOP lawmakers.
 
The memo is said to contain allegations of the FBI improperly surveilling Trump campaign communications.
 
The House Intelligence Committee voted earlier this week to publicly release the memo, which is currently under review by the White House. 
 
Democrats have slammed the memo as a compilation of cherry-picked facts meant to undercut Muller's probe into Russia's election interference and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The FBI said in a statement Wednesday that it had "grave concerns" about releasing the memo in its current form.
 
Multiple sources told CNN that Trump believes the memo will help discredit the Russia investigation. 
 
Schumer has repeatedly lashed out at Nunes and the memo this week. 
 
He added on Thursday that House Republicans are trying to "sow conspiracy theories and attack the integrity and credibility of federal law enforcement as a means to protect President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE and undermine the work of Special Counsel Mueller."  
 
"Quite simply, under your leadership, dangerous partisanship among many House Republicans seems to have taken precedent over the oath we all take to protect our nation," he added in the letter to Ryan.
 
In addition to wanting to know if House leadership was involved with the memo, Schumer also wants the House Speaker to respond to the FBI's public statement that it has "grave concerns" about omissions in the Nunes's memo. 
 
He also wants to know if Ryan or his staff have been speaking to the White House about the memo; if Nunes, Ryan or his staff have viewed the classified documents that Nunes says his memo is based on, and if he has received any assurances that releasing the memo will not harm national security. 
 
Schumer's letter came after Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks Senate GOP eyes early exit MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, warned House Republicans to proceed with caution before making the House Intelligence Committee memo public.
 
Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings MORE (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday night that Nunes gave the White House a "secretly altered" version of the memo. 
 
Jack Langer, Nunes's spokesman, said in a statement that Schiff's letter amounted to another "strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo."
 
But Schumer seized on the claim, asking, in the letter to Ryan, if he was aware of the differences and if he knew of any previous instance "where a Chairman has unilaterally and substantively changed a document ... without notifying the committee? Or without voting on an amended document?"
 
Updated: 2:49 p.m.