Questioning the integrity of a congressional panel’s investigation of alleged links between US President Donald Trump’s campaign aides and Russia, critics and opponents are demanding a separate probe conducted by a select committee or independent commission.
Citing “grave concerns” about the conduct of panel chairman Devin Nunes, who is a Republican, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday, “It does underscore the importance of establishing an independent commission, a body that is fully independent of any political considerations including those that may emanate from the White House.”
Even Republicans joined in the criticism, and sought an independent probe. Senator John McCain, a Republican heading the powerful armed services committee of the upper chamber of US congress, said he is calling for “select committee or a special committee … (as) that no longer does the congress have credibility to handle this alone”.
Nunes’s remarks led to this chorus of demand for a separate probe — he said he had seen evidence of “incidental” surveillance of Trump campaign’s communications team by US intelligence, which was used by the president to say he felt “somewhat” vindicated about his charge that his predecessor Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.
Nunes took whatever evidence he had first to a press conference and then to the White House, without looping in the rest of the committee, the House permanent select committee on intelligence.
A furious Schiff said in a statement that “a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way”.