Sept. 8, 2017 – In a letter sent today to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, Democracy 21 called on the Representatives to stop Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) from violating his public commitment to stay out of the investigation.
Democracy 21 sent a copy of the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and also called on him “to exercise [his] authority and responsibility as House Speaker and as leader of the majority party in the House to ensure that Rep. Nunes honors his public commitment and completely steps aside from the Russia investigation.”
The letter stated:
According to published reports, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has issued new subpoenas to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for documents related to a dossier involving President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. According to these reports, the subpoenas, signed by Chairman Nunes, were issued on August 24, 2017.
These new subpoenas once again violate the commitment that Chairman Nunes made to the American people in April to remove himself from the Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Chairman Nunes issued a statement in April of this year that “it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress … 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.”
The Nunes statement followed a request by Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) to the Office of Congressional Ethics asking for an investigation into whether Chariman Nunes had disclosed classified information in violation of House Ethics rules. The House Ethics Committee proceeded to open an inquiry into the matter. Chairman Nunes has denied the charges.
According to the letter:
There is no indication that the House Ethics Committee has completed its review of the Democracy 21-CREW allegations that Chairman Nunes violated House ethics rules, or that the Committee has cleared him of the allegations. Thus, the Chairman’s previous public commitment to remove himself from the Russia investigation and yield control of the Committee’s investigation to Rep. Conaway remains in effect, pending completion of the Ethics Committee review.
The letter continued:
Chairman Nunes has previously claimed that he did not formally “recuse” himself from the investigation because his April statement did not use that exact term. This is simply a word game and should be given no credibility.
Chairman Nunes clearly conveyed to the public that he would step aside from the Russia investigation while he himself was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. He also clearly communicated that Rep. Conaway would “take charge” of the investigation in the interim.
Whether or not Chairman Nunes used the word “recuse,” the substance of what he said and the message he communicated to the American people was clear: he would not be involved in the Committee’s Russia investigation, as long as the ethics investigation of his actions was pending. The new subpoenas issued by Chairman Nunes blatantly contradict this public commitment.
The letter noted that Chairman Nunes is not necessary for issuing subpoenas as the House Intelligence Committee itself has the authority to issue subpoenas without his involvement.
The letter concluded:
The continued inappropriate involvement by Chairman Nunes in the Russia investigation is undermining the public credibility of the Committee’s important investigation into the Russia matter.
Democracy 21 calls on you as the Intelligence Committee leaders of the Russia investigation to take all steps necessary to ensure that Chairman Nunes abides by his public commitment to remove himself from the Russia investigation while he is under investigation by the Ethics Committee for alleged ethics violations.
To read the full letter to representatives, click here.
For the latest reform news and to access previous reports, releases, and analysis from Democracy 21, visit www.democracy21.org.