Republicans are claiming that House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes never actually recused himself from the Russia investigation because he did not use the word “recusal.”
Democratic Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff is trying to invalidate the subpoenas that Nunes sent out to three intelligence agencies asking for information on the alleged “unmasking” of Trump transition officials by Susan Rice and possibly John Brennan and Samantha Power.
Schiff said that Nunes violated his recusal on the Russia matter by issuing the subpoenas, though it is unclear that the subpoenas Nunes issued on the unmasking are actually related to Russia. Nunes stepped aside from the Russia probe after Democrats complained about Nunes briefing the White House before the Intelligence Committee with information about Trump’s transition team being surveilled. House Speaker Paul Ryan joined with the Democrats in supporting Nunes stepping aside.
“He didn’t ‘recuse’ himself. That has a very specific legal definition and isn’t accurate here,” a senior Republican aide told CNN, noting the difference between “temporarily stepping aside” and “recusing.”
Let’s look at Nunes’ statement announcing his so-called recusal (emphasis 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,” Nunes stated.