Kushner, taking new White House role, faces rare scrutiny

30 March, 2017, 01:33 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • AP file

"I've said it from the day that I got here: There is no connection [between the administration and Russia]".

As House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes faces growing calls to step aside from the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 us presidential election, New Jersey Gov.

Nunes is facing growing calls to step away from the panel's Russian Federation investigation as revelations about a secret source meeting on White House grounds raised questions about his and the panel's independence.

The White House has denied it tried to stop potentially damaging evidence about links between the President's team and Russian Federation from being made public.

Nunes announced last week without providing a source that he had information Trump associates may have been ensnared in incidental intelligence collection before the president took office in January.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accused the embattled chairman of running an "Inspector Clouseau investigation", referencing the bumbling "Pink Panther" detective. "I think that is where it is".

Nunes said Tuesday he won't share that information - even with members of his own panel.

"We will never reveal those source and methods", he said.

Nunes said on Tuesday he has "no idea" why Democrats would call for him to step aside from the investigation.

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"Speaker Ryan has full confidence that Chairman Nunes is conducting a thorough, fair, and credible investigation", said AshLee Strong, Ryan's spokeswoman.

Later in the day, the White House vehemently denied a report that it had sought to hobble the testimony of a former acting attorney general before Nunes canceled the hearing where she was to speak.

The letters from lawyer David O'Neil, published by The Washington Post, appeared to be in response to a meeting O'Neil had at the Justice Department on March 23 in advance of the hearing.

The White House quickly called the report "entirely false".

"The White House did not stop Yates from testifying", Yates said. "I look forward to it". Yates herself was sacked in January after she directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend Trumps first travel ban in court.

"We believe that the Department's position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department's historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials", O'Neil wrote in a March 23 letter to Justice Department official Samuel Ramer.

Chris Christie admitted he didn't agree with Nunes' actions but said recusal is a "personal decision".

Top Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as well as the House Intelligence Committee's ranking member, Adam Schiff, all called for Nunes' removal from the House investigation on Monday.

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