- Thomson Reuters
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that “the only person who can intervene” to preserve the credibility of the committee’s Russia investigation amid Chairman Devin Nunes’ recent antics is House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“If Speaker Ryan wants a credible investigation to come out of the House Intelligence Committee, he’ll do everything he can to make sure Devin Nunes’ fingerprints are not on our report,” Swalwell told Business Insider in an interview.
“The chairmanship is an appointed position,” Swalwell said. “So he [Ryan] is the only person who can intervene. If he’s not willing to, then it’s just going to continue, and the final report will have an asterisk on it.”
Spokespeople for Nunes and Ryan did not return requests for comment.
Nunes, the committee’s chairman, stepped aside from the Russia investigation in early April following his decision to brief Trump and the press on classified intelligence – without telling his fellow committee members. But he quickly began conducting his own investigation into “unmaskings” by the Obama administration and the credibility of the dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
Nunes angered the committee’s minority when he subpoenaed the opposition research firm Fusion GPS earlier this month for more information about the dossier. A Democratic committee source told CNN that the subpoenas were issued “without the minority’s agreement and despite good faith engagement thus far by the witnesses on the potential terms for voluntary cooperation.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday that Nunes issued the subpoenas one day after Fusion GPS’ lawyer met with a bipartisan group of committee members to discuss how they could cooperate further. The lawyer, Joshua A. Levy, issued a blistering statement, alleging that “Nunes, in bad faith, unilaterally broke our discussions with committee staff and abruptly demanded that my clients submit to a fresh inquiry.”
Swalwell is not the only committee member who has raised the alarm about Nunes’ actions. Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley said last month in Chicago that while Nunes stepped aside from the probe in April, he “has not fully given up” the responsibilities of that role.
“For instance, he insisted that he still be the one who signs the subpoenas,” Quigley said. “So who’s the boss? You can’t have two people running the investigation on the House side. The subpoena power is extraordinarily important … this has created just one issue we have in moving forward.”
In June, Nunes angered the Democrats when he demanded more details from the CIA, FBI, and NSA about why Obama administration officials requested the unmasking of Trump associates last year. He also threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray in contempt of Congress last month if they did not respond to a subpoena for documents relating to the dossier.
Quigley, meanwhile, said that Nunes “is not the only” committee Republican creating problems.
“I’m there as we’re questioning witnesses. And some day these transcripts will be made public. Many of you are going to say, ‘what the hell are they doing?'” he said. “They seem to be taking over the role of a second attorney for the witness testifying before us. And it’s conflicting, and it’s difficult.”
Quigley added that “it is conceivable that Republicans and Democrats would have separate reports” if they issued their findings about the investigation today.
“And that’s very unfortunate,” he said.