Devin Nunes, Donald Trump’s chief ally on the congressional committees investigating the president’s connections to Russia, has stepped aside from the inquiry, as he faces his own ethics investigation. Less than two weeks after the Democrats on the House intelligence committee called for Nunes to recuse himself, the committee chairman said he would “temporarily” leave the inquiry in the hands of other rightwing Republicans, leaving it unclear how much Nunes’ absence would transform an investigation stalled by deep partisan infighting. Nunes, a member of Trump’s national security transition team and the head of the House intelligence committee, is now the subject of an inquiry from the House ethics panel. … Nunes’ decision makes him the second Trump ally to remove himself from the varied Russia investigations. The first, attorney general Jeff Sessions, stepped aside on 3 March after revelations that he had meetings with the Russian ambassador while part of the Trump campaign.
Nunes had faced deep criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans for diverting the focus of an inquiry deeply damaging to Trump over to murky and morphing allegations that Trump was the subject of improper leaks. He had initially and untruthfully denied that the Trump White House had aided him in supplying the material for those allegations, prompting Democrats to accuse Nunes of a cover-up.
But in alleging last month that Obama officials mishandled classified information on Trump, Nunes appeared to reveal the existence of a surveillance-court order. That apparent “unauthorized disclosur[e] of classified information” prompted the House ethics committee to launch an investigation into Nunes, ethics committee chair Susan Brooks and top Democrat Ted Deutch said in a statement.