A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, has accused the chairman of his panel, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, of participating in a cover-up of the Trump campaign's alleged ties to the Russian government.
On March 28, Swalwell blasted Nunes, who is leading the Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, for having briefed President Donald Trump on classified information possibly related to the probe before sharing it with his own panel members.
On March 27, Nunes disclosed that he had met with an undisclosed source at the White House on March 21 to review sensitive information. On March 22, he held a public press conference announcing that members of the Trump transition team had been incidentally surveilled following the election.
Earlier that morning, Nunes had privately briefed Trump on the information before sharing it with members of the House Intelligence investigation. Following the revelation that the committee chairman had received his information from a source at the White House, several Democratic lawmakers called for him to recuse himself from the investigation.
"I believe that the chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition, as he was also a key member of the transition team," said the committee's ranking member, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, according to ABC News.
Nunes' spokesman, Jack Langer, has asserted in a statement that the White House was the most appropriate location for the committee chairman to meet his source.
"Because of classification rules, the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence Committee space," Langer said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The White House grounds was the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents, so the chairman could view them in a legal way."
Swalwell blasted this defense, accusing Nunes of being disingenuous about his reasons for visiting the White House.
"It's not an internet cafe," Swalwell told MSNBC. "You can't just walk in and receive classified information ... This is done because the White House wanted it to be done."
Swalwell added that Nunes could have brought the intelligence over to Capitol Hill and "shared it with both parties of the committee."
Swalwell suggested Nunes was working on behalf of the Trump administration to minimize the findings of the Intelligence Committee's probe.
"This is what a cover-up up to a crime looks like," Swalwell said. "We are watching it play out right now."
That same morning, Nunes was asked by reporters on Capitol Hill if he would remain chairman of the investigation into Russia's role in the election.
"Why would I not?" Nunes responded, according to USA Today.
The chairman also postponed public hearings with national security officials for the rest of the week, asserting that he would like for FBI Director James Comey to privately testify with the committee before it moves forward in its investigation.