Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has removed himself from the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the successful presidential campaign of President Donald Trump.
"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 said in a statement, reports CNN.
He added: "I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims."
Nunes was a member of Trump's transition team and has been accused of being too close to the president to conduct an ethical investigation into allegations of Russia's supposed involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign, which was widely believed to be an easy win for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
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"Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics," Nunes said in his statement, according to the New York Post. "The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power."
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, praised Nunes’ decision and said it was made in the "best interests of the investigation," according to the New York Times.
"It will allow us to have a fresh start moving forward," he added.
Nunes has been accused of divulging information from the investigation to the Trump administration, including information about intelligence agencies conducting surveillance of Trump campaign operatives after the election and while President Barack Obama was still in office.
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"The [House Ethics] Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct," Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, the committee chairwoman, and Democratic Rep. Theodore Deutch of Florida, said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Ethics Committee "is investigating and gathering more information regarding these allegations," they said.