The head of the congressional investigation into Russia's role in the US presidential race Devin Nunes has stepped down. He now faces an ethics committee over allegations of misconduct.
After a week of ignoring calls from both Republicans and Democrats for him to step down from an inquiry into alleged Russian collusion in the US election, Devin Nunes said on Thursday that he was recusing himself from the probe. The announcement came shortly after it came to light that Nunes was being investigated for ethics violations.
A Republican congressman and head of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes found himself at the center of scandal earlier this month when it emerged that he had shared information on the investigation into the Trump campaign with the White House. This was further exacerbated by the fact that he did so without telling his Democratic counterpart, Representative Adam Schiff.
His actions immediately raised questions over whether he was too loyal to Trump to conduct an investigation into his presidential campaign. However, when asked in the immediate aftermath of these revelations if he would step aside, Nunes replied: "Why would I?"
Nunes: "Left-wing activists" to blame for ethics inquiry
By Thursday, however, the House Ethics Committee had made it known it was looking into possible misconduct on Nunes' part, and the congressman had changed his tune.
"I believe it is in the best interest 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," Nunes said.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan downplayed the decision, saying Nunes still had his complete trust, but was stepping aside so as not to provide a "distraction to the investigation."
Adam Schiff welcomed the news, saying it was "of critical importance that we need to get fully back on track…we have a fresh opportunity to move forward in the unified and nonpartisan way that an investigation of this seriousness demands."
Nunes blamed "several left-wing activist groups," for filing the accusations that led to the ethics probe. He called the charges "false and politically motivated."
es/rt (AP, dpa)