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Visit to WH grounds by House intel chairman clouds investigation

Updated: 2017-03-28 16:49
Visit to WH grounds by House intel chairman clouds investigation

US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) briefs reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, US, March 24, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON  — US House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes acknowledges he went to the White House grounds to review intelligence reports and meet the secret source behind his claim that communications involving associates of President Donald Trump were caught up in "incidental" surveillance.

The Republican congressman's revelation Monday prompted the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, as well as the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, to call on Nunes to recuse himself from the committee's Russia probe.

Schiff said Nunes' connections to the White House have raised insurmountable public doubts about whether the committee could credibly investigate the president's campaign associates.

"I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president's campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman," Schiff said in a statement Monday.

Nunes confirmed Monday that he met with the source at the White House complex, but he denied coordinating with the president's aides.

After reviewing the information last week, Nunes called a news conference to announce that US spy agencies may have inadvertently captured Trump and his associates in routine targeting of foreigners' communications. Trump quickly seized on the statements as at least partial vindication for his assertion that President Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower — though Nunes, Schiff and FBI Director James Comey have said there is no such evidence.

The Senate intelligence committee is also conducting an investigation into Russia's interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. On Monday, it announced that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has agreed to be interviewed. The White House confirmed that Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, had volunteered to be interviewed about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials.

Kushner is the fourth Trump associate to offer to be interviewed by the congressional committees looking into the murky Russia ties. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Trump adviser Carter Page and Trump associate Roger Stone last week volunteered to speak as well.

A Russian state bank says it has met with Kushner as part of a series of meetings on future strategies.

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