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 SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' MORE (D-N.Y.) demanded Thursday that Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Intel hearing showcases political divide over Mueller report 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 RyanThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Ocasio-Cortez calls out Steve King, Liz Cheney amid controversy over concentration camp remarks Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law 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 PelosiThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Judd Gregg: An Irish friend and wisdom Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 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 TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates 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 ThuneGOP senators divided over approach to election security McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account 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 SchiffSchiff would support impeachment if White House ignores a final court decision on documents, testimony US finds itself isolated in Iran conflict House Intelligence Committee to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater 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.