The embattled House intelligence committee chairman, Devin Nunes, has refused to recuse himself from the committee’s investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, despite calls from Democrats. “Why would I?” asked Nunes, who has lost the confidence of the Democrats on the intelligence committee after a series of allegations that they consider a cover-up for the White House. “It’s the same thing as always around this place: a lot of politics, people get heated, but I’m not going to involve myself with that.” The speaker of the House gave Nunes his full confidence on Tuesday. Asked at a press conference whether he should step down, Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, responded simply: “No.” With the Republicans generally united in defense of the inquiry, chances are diminishing for its work to be accepted as definitive. The Republicans are also blocking the establishment of an independent commission into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Doubts over Nunes sharply escalated after the California Republican canceled a public hearing originally planned for Tuesday during which two senior intelligence officials appointed by Barack Obama, and the former acting attorney general Sally Yates, were scheduled to testify.
Yates, whom Trump fired after she refused to defend his travel ban in court, was reportedly told by the Trump administration that her testimony was subject to constraint. The Washington Post published letters from Yates’s attorney indicating the justice department informed her that “all information Ms Yates received or actions she took” while a senior department official represented “client confidences that she may not disclose absent written consent of the Department”.