Representative Devin Nunes, the embattled California Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday he would step aside from leading his committee's investigation into Russia's efforts to disrupt last year's presidential election.The congressman has been under growing criticism for his handling of the Russian inquiry. Many on Capitol Hill have said he is too eager to do the White House's bidding and cannot be an impartial investigator into questions about any role President Trump's associates may have had in last year's Russian campaign to disrupt the election.
Nunes, conceding that he's now facing an inquiry from the House Ethics Committee, blamed "left-wing activist groups" for making "false and politically motivated" accusations against him.It is, of course, ironic to hear Nunes, of all people, accuse others of making "false and politically motivated" accusations, given his track record of late. As for "left-wing activist groups," it wasn't liberals who forced Nunes to make a secret trip to the White House, abuse his position, and lie about his actions.Under normal circumstances, Nunes would be facing consequences far more serious than a simple recusal.House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who's continued to defend Nunes despite the evidence, said in a statement he supports the chairman's decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, saying the ethics probe "would be a distraction."So what happens now? According to Nunes' written statement, he'll stay on as chairman of his own committee -- many Democrats insisted he should lose his gavel -- even if he's not directly involved in the investigation of the Trump/Russia scandal. The statement added, "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 Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter."Should committee votes on the Russia scandal be an issue, Republicans will maintain their majority, even without Nunes' vote, 12 members to 9.