If Congress and the American public are to learn the truth about Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, must surrender any role in the committee’s investigation, Common Cause and 15 other organizations and individuals said today.
In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the individuals and groups assailed Nunes’s reported plan to push for public release of a classified memo he and his staff prepared concerning what they argue is misconduct by top-ranking Justice Department officials.
As part of Trump’s pre-inauguration transition team, Nunes has an “inherent conflict of interest” that should disqualify him from participating in the Russia investigation, the letter argues. He also has lied repeatedly about subjects related to the probe and “has shown little interest in getting to the bottom of Russian interference, it adds.
In addition to Common Cause, the letter to Ryan was signed by attorneys Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, who served as ethics advisers to former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively.
Other signers include American Oversight; the Coalition to Preserve, Protect and Defend, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; Demand Progress Action; Democracy 21; Equal Justice Society; Justin Hendrix; Kathleen Clark; MoveOn.org; People for the American Way; Public Citizen; and the Revolving Door Project.
The Nunes memo is thought to be critical of alleged conflicts of interest involving FBI agents and Justice Department officials investigating possible connections between the Trump for President campaign and the Russian effort. Published reports indicate it singles out FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The FBI confirmed today that McCabe will leave his job in February and retire in March. The president has criticized him and Rosenstein repeatedly, attacking McCabe because his wife ran for the Virginia legislature as a Democrat and accepted a $500,000 contribution from a political action group linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Trump’s anger with Rosenstein reportedly grows out of Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI boss Robert Mueller to lead the bureau’s investigation to any Trump-Russia ties.
The Justice Department has asked the Intelligence Committee to keep the memo secret until officials there can review it; President Trump has suggested it should be released and Nunes and other House Republicans are campaigning openly for its release.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump “has told close advisers that the (Nunes) memo is starting to make people realize how the FBI and the Mueller probe are biased against him, and that it could provide him with grounds for either firing or forcing Rosenstein to leave.”
Office: Common Cause Virginia
Tags: Congressional Ethics