House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to committee members Thursday, a Democrat on the panel told reporters, coming the day after Nunes told the public and the President that communications of him and associates may have been collected by intelligence agencies before telling Democratic members of the committee.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said Nunes apologized at their meeting Thursday morning. Nunes also promised to provide the same information he’s viewed to the committee members but did not offer a specific timeline.
Nunes, a member of the Trump’s transition team executive committee, set off a stunning new political controversy Wednesday when he headed to the White House to personally brief President Donald Trump on the revelations. Despite being advised against doing so, sources said Nunes met with Republican members of the Intelligence Committee before his news conference, but did not share information with the Democrats on the committee.
Committee Democrats had to force Nunes at the meeting to talk about his announcement, a committee source told CNN. The source said that when the intelligence meeting began, Nunes did not want to bring the issue up — but Democrats pressed him, leading him to apologize.
His apology comes after a day of fierce criticism from Democrats for how Nunes handled the news Wednesday.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an “outside non-partisan commission” to handle the investigation into Russia meddling in the US election last year.
“I think he has demonstrated that there is some question about his respect for the committee,” she told reporters Thursday, adding, “I think he sent a signal that as a member of the Trump transition team himself, he probably should not be intricately involved in this investigation.”
Pelosi said Nunes was either duped or a “willing stooge” who’s committed a stunt.
“I don’t know if that was a cry for help, or ‘let me out of here,’ or whatever that was, but it was highly unusual,” she said a a news conference. “Outside, the accepted behavior of a Chairman of an intelligence or any committee.”
The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee said Nunes should be the subject of an investigation after telling Trump that communications of him and associates may have been picked up after the election by intelligence agencies conducting surveillance of foreign targets.
“Basically what he has done is he has scuttled and put a cloud over his own investigation and he has become the subject — he should be — of an investigation,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday on “New Day.” “It’s a real problem.”
“What he did was basically to go to the President, who is being investigated by the FBI and others and by the intelligence committee, to give them information.”
Nunes’ Democratic counterpart on the committee — Rep. Adam Schiff — warned that his colleague had cast a “profound cloud” over their effort to investigate Russian attempts to interfere in the election.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is also a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Nunes’ actions show that an independent commission is needed to investigate Trump and his associates.
“He’s not the President’s lawyer and he betrayed the independence that our committee must show at such a trying time in our nation’s history,” the California congressman told Cuomo. “And this is all the more reason that we need an independent commission to get to the bottom of this.”
“This cannot be conducted in Congress in the impartial, independent way that the American people are expecting.”
However, Swalwell stopped short of calling for Nunes’ resignation from being the intelligence chairman.
“He’s had some very good days on this committee. Yesterday, so far, was his worst. So let’s not judge him by his best day or worst day,” he said. “Let’s see what he does today when we meet in about an hour.”