US House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes said Thursday morning that he is stepping down from the committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election as the House Ethics Committee announced an investigation into whether he revealed classified information.
“Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Nunes said in a statement.
“Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter,” he said.
The House Ethics Committee announced it would investigate allegations Nunes publicly revealed classified information in connection with the Russia probe.
“The Committee has determined to investigate these allegations in order to fulfill its institutional obligation to investigate certain allegations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, and to determine if there has been any violation of the Code of Official Conduct,” the committee said in a statement.
Last week, the groups Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Ethics Office to investigate whether Nunes revealed classified information when he said members of President Donald Trump’s transition team had been incidentally surveilled after the election.
Nunes’ comments on March 22 that Trump team members’ information may have been collected during legal surveillance of foreign targets raised questions about whether the congressman had revealed classified intelligence information.