With their scripted story line that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to beat Hillary Clinton teetering, left-wing activists have targeted Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, prompting him to step aside temporarily from the Russia investigation.
Nunes said Thursday that several “left-wing activist groups” had filed accusations against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power,” he said.
But the congressman said that 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.”
“I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it is investigating whether Nunes made unauthorized disclosures of classified information when he announced last month that intelligence agencies incidentally collected information about Trump associates.
This week, Susan Rice, Obama’s former national security adviser, acknowledged she unmasked the names of the Trump associates.
Speaking to MSNBC, she insisted the unmasking “was not uncommon.”
“It was necessary at times to make those requests.”
But speaking to PBS on March 22, Rice had denied any knowledge of such unmasking after it was revealed by Nunes.
She told PBS, “I know nothing about this,” and “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
Former Congresswoman and House Intelligence Committee member Michele Bachmann told WND, “What Susan Rice did is 1,000 times worse than Watergate. Rice clearly pursued a political witch hunt to defeat a Trump presidency.”
One of the nation’s top legal minds, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, says there are things with Rice’s case that just don’t line up.
In a column in National Review this week he questioned Rice’s claim there were no political purposes in her work.
“The national security adviser is not an investigator,” he wrote. “She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it.”
Therefore, McCarthy said, if Susan Rice “was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic Party interests.”
WND reported the New York Times revealed the source of Nunes’ evidence of Obama administration”wire-tapping” of Trump came from the White House.
It was the the New York Times itself that had reported in January the Trump team was under federal surveillance.
On Jan. 19, just as Trump was preparing for his inauguration the next day, the Times revealed, “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as a part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump.”
The House Intelligence Committee, headed by Nunes, has been investigating Trump’s “wire-tapping” claims while Democrats and the media have insisted there is no evidence.
But then the Times reported two White House officials “played a role in providing Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.”
However, unless the full reports are released, the claim that they were “incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance” remains unverified.
“Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence committee,” the report said.
While Nunes’ committee was looking into the claims, which also relate to whether Russians interfered in the American presidential election, the report said, he got a call from “a source” and then met him, or them, on White House grounds.
“He has explained the choice of location by saying he needed access to a secure location where people with security clearances can legally view classified information,” the Times reported.
Schiff later saw the same materials and complained that it hadn’t been shared with the committee first.
Former Obama official Evelyn Farkas disclosed to MSNBC that the previous administration not only was collecting intelligence on the Trump team, it was attempting to share it as far and wide as possible.
She admitted it may have been for political purposes, after Obama’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and former acting CIA Director Michael Morell said they had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump team and the Russian government.
Farkas said she was “urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration.”
It was at that time that the media, Democrats and other Trump critics began demanding Nunes recuse himself from the investigation.
President Trump, meanwhile, has asked the Intelligence Committee to investigate the deal between a Russian state-owned energy company and a Canadian-owned mining company closely tied to the Clinton Foundation that led to Russian control over one-fifth of U.S. uranium interests.
WND has reported tens of millions of dollars from uranium investors flowed into the Clinton Foundation before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped decide whether to approve the sale of the Canadian company to the Russian government.
Before she approved the deal, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for giving a speech in Moscow.