Ryan Backs Nunes as Intelligence Chairman Rebuffs Recusal Calls

"The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying and the Department of Justice, specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible", deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to CNN.

"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.

Yates and another witness at the planned hearing, former C.I.A. director John Brennan, had made it clear to government officials by Thursday that their testimony to the committee probably would contradict some statements that White House officials had made, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Spicer says the White House did not respond to the letter.

"I hope she testifies", Spicer said.

On a day when the House Intelligence Committee was supposed to be questioning former Obama administration officials about Russian interference in the 2016 election, partisan warfare instead consumed the panel and intensified doubts about its ability to investigate the Kremlin campaign. But if it did, if Nunes really was willing to publicize intel the White House had handed him as a favor to Trump, what reason is there to think he'll pursue the Russiagate inquiry diligently if it happens to lead to someone in 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, " he said.

When asked at a press conference Tuesday morning if he thinks Nunes should step down from the investigation, and if he knows who Nunes' source was, Ryan answered simply, "Uh, no and no".

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Several congressional committees, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US intelligence community, are investigating Russian meddling in the USA election, including the hacking and release of Democratic emails.

The Washington Post first reported on the letters from Yates' attorney.

He noted that former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed to have forgotten about talks with the Russian ambassador. The lawmaker acknowledged visiting the White House before making the announcement but has declined to say who he met there. The panel has no public hearings on its calendar, but Schiff told NPR on Tuesday that Republican and Democratic staffers are continuing to review documents and assemble lists of potential witnesses.

Sen. John McCain says House intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes must explain why he went to the White House alone to review intelligence critical to a bipartisan congressional investigation on Russian Federation.

After beginning on a bipartisan note, the House Intelligence Committee is quickly falling apart amid a series of revelations about its Republican chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, and mounting questions about his ability to objectively lead the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation.

The development has increased partisan tension over the neutrality of the House panel's Russian Federation investigation amid concerns about Republican chairman Rep. Devin Nunes' independence from the White House.

Yates may still appear before Nunes and Schiff's committee, Schiff said on Tuesday, but no hearings are on the calendar and the process is still in disarray after a unusual back-and-forth last week. Therefore, to the extent Ms. Yates needs consent to disclose the details of those communications to [the intelligence panel], she needs to consult with the White House.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is facing increasing pressure from Democrats to step away because he's seen as being too close to the White House, especially after he went to the White House grounds to review secret reports.

  • Megan Austin