House intelligence committee chair steps aside
WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House intelligence committee says he will temporarily step aside from the panel's probe into Russian meddling in the election.
In a statement on Thursday, Republican congressman Devin Nunes of California says that several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against him with the office of congressional ethics.
Nunes says the charges are false and politically motivated. But he says it's in the best interest of the committee to have GOP congressman Mike Conaway of Texas temporarily take charge of the committee's investigation.
He says he will continue fulfilling other duties with the committee and wants to talk to the ethics committee as soon as possible to defend himself.
A watchdog group says it believes Nunes has gravely violated House ethics rules governing classified information and should be investigated immediately.
Jordan Libowitz is spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Libowitz says the group is encouraged by the House Ethics Committee launching an investigation.
Libowitz also says Nunes did the right thing by stepping aside from the House intelligence committee's investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
The group and another called Democracy 21 asked for the ethics investigation after Nunes disclosed last month that U.S. intelligence intercepts had swept up foreign communications of Trump transition team members.