Schumer: Ryan must remove Nunes as Intel chairman

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

 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) demanded Thursday that Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman House Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearing Sunday shows preview: Top tier 2020 Democrats make their case before New Hampshire primary 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 RyanPaul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power 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 PelosiMalaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations Pelosi warns allies against using Huawei Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight 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 TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press 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 ThuneMcConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran 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 SchiffSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump DOJ lawyers resign en masse over Roger Stone sentencing 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.