Now, we’ve learned through subsequent reports that the information he got which he said involved the USA sweeping up Trump administration or then Trump transition aides and potentially Trump himself in surveillance of foreign persons overseas might have included some of the names of the people involved with 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 Russian Federation investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter.

Nunes’ announcement was a transparent effort to divert attention from the Russian Federation investigation, as were subsequent attempts to make an issue out of the fact that Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, did what national security advisers ought to do: assess the significance and possible implications of intelligence intercepts. “There was a cloud hanging over us after the White House incident”, Schiff told The Associated Press.

Earlier on Thursday, the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate whether Nunes made “unauthorized disclosures of classified information” in violation of House rules.

Nunes says he didn’t do anything wrong.

Spokesman Sean Spicer declined to comment Thursday, saying House decisions about committee chairman or their activities are “up to them”.

It then emerged that Mr Nunes had secretly visited the White House last month for a briefing about the incidental collection of information on Americans that is part of the surveillance of foreigners.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, would not comment on whether it was pursing an investigation. Nunes called the charges false and politically motivated, but said it was in the best interest of the intelligence panel to have Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, temporarily take charge of the Russian Federation probe.

Conaway, a Texas Republican, who will now lead the Russian Federation investigation, said he hopes to work with the committee’s Democrats to get the Russian Federation investigation back on track, but said he’ll need their cooperation.

Two ethics watchdog groups filed complaints about the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes of California.

Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington say Nunes disclosed classified information, which violates House ethics rules.

Schiff later saw the same material, but refused to publicly discuss what he learned. “Most people recognise that the House as an institution needs to do serious oversight here and that the House is on trial“, she said.

Castro and other Democrats charged that the chairman was, as a result, compromised on an investigation that could take the committee to the White House. “He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws”.

Schiff said Conaway does not have the same history with the White House that Nunes does.

In a statement announcing his decision, Mr Nunes said he wanted to speak with the ethics office as soon as possible “to expedite the dismissal of these false claims”. He added that he thought it was in the best interest of the Congress and the committee for him to step aside, “despite the baselessness of the charges”.

“I look forward to my continued work with the Chairman on the whole host of other important issues that our committee oversees every day”, he said in a statement. My profession as a CPA and auditor has taught me to be objective and methodical, and that is how I intend to help lead this investigation.

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