Congressman Conaway to Lead Russian Hack Hearings
SAN ANGELO, TX – After a series of events that left many wary of how impartial House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes could be during the Russian Hack investigations, Congressman Mike Conaway has been selected as the new lead investigator in the case. Nunes has stepped down as the leader of the investigation as the House Ethics Committee considers allegations that his relationship with White House officials is unorthodox.
Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said "entirely false and politically motivated" charges that he made unauthorized disclosures of classified information had been lodged against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Additionally, as part of Donald Trump's presidential transition team following the 2016 election, Nunes has been sharply criticized by Democrats for his handling of the Russia probe after he received information at the White House, held a news conference about it and then went back to the White House to brief Trump, all before sharing it with other members of his committee, Reuters reported.
The Russia probe is investigating whether Moscow hacked emails of senior Democrats during the election campaign and released embarrassing information to hurt Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and benefit Trump. Russia denies the allegations, said the news source.
The House Ethics Committee said in a statement it decided to investigate allegations that Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information in violation of House rules, the law and other standards of conduct.
Nunes maintains he decided to step aside from the Russia investigation "in order to fight the allegations and wanted to speak with the ethics office as soon as possible to expedite the dismissal of these false claims." He also said he stepped down to avoid further public distrust in the committee’s ability to hold an unbiased and bi-partisan investigation.
Conaway is a seven-term member who has served Texas' 11th District, including San Angelo, for a long time. During this election cycle, Conaway was re-elected with 89.5 percent of the votes; his opponent Nicholas Landholt, a Libertarian, only received 10.5 percent.
Even though Nunes stated, “I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway…temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation,” Conaway’s track record regarding this specific issue has been questioned as he has often made light of what are very serious charges.
During the hearing in which FBI Director Comey stated that “Putin Hated Secretary Clinton so much” that he then had a “clear preference for the person running against [her],” Conaway replied that logic worked in football, implying the allegation lacked merit. He then made a reference to his wife’s preference of the Red Raiders over the Texas Longhorns. Comey responded by stating that the investigation was based on more than simple logic, but, in those terms, fans would obviously want the opponents of their favorite team to lose.
Conaway, who is also chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is highly respected by his GOP colleagues, and even Democratic representatives have stated they support the decision to have Conaway temporarily replace Nunes.
Representative Adam Schiff, who is the top Democrat on the committee, issued the following statement: “I look forward to joining with him and putting our investigation fully back on track. The important work of investigating the Russian involvement in our election never subsided, but we have a fresh opportunity to move forward in the unified and non-partisan way that an investigation of this seriousness demands.”