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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Bashes House of Representatives Intelligence Committee: Calls For Removal of Representative Nunes


March 27, 2017

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER

Mr. President, I rise this afternoon on a few topics. First, on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, this is a matter of such gravity, we need to get it right. There should be no doubt about the integrity and impartiality of the investigation, either in the executive branch, where the FBI and Department of Justice are looking into it, or in Congress, where the Intelligence Committees of both Chambers are conducting an investigation.




Unfortunately, the House Intelligence Committee has come under a cloud of suspicion and partisanship. A few months ago, Chairman NUNES spoke to reporters at the request of the White House to tamp down stories on the links between the Trump campaign and Russia, which is exactly what his committee now must investigate. This past week, Chairman NUNES broke with the committee process and tradition to brief the President on information he had learned but hadn’t yet shared with the committee. We have learned this morning that Chairman NUNES was at the White House the day before that event—doing what? We don’t know. It could very well be the case that Chairman NUNES was briefing members of the administration about an investiga- tion of which they are the subject.

Chairman NUNES is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the President than in seeking the truth. You cannot have the person in charge of an impartial investigation be partial to one side. It is an inherent contradiction, and it undermines decades of bipartisan cooperation on the Intelligence Committee, which handles such sensitive information paramount to national security. It undermines Congress as a coequal branch of government meant to hold the executive branch accountable for its actions, and it corrodes the American people’s confidence in our government.

If Speaker RYAN wants the House to have a credible investigation, he needs to replace Chairman NUNES. Congress was meant by the Framers to be separate and equal, and I sincerely worry that under his direction, Mr. NUNES is pushing the committee into a direction of obsequiousness and not one that is asking the hard questions and getting the important answers.

There has always been a grand tradi- tion of bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committee. When Members go into the SCIF, the room where they get secure briefings, they check their par- tisanship at the door. Chairman NUNES is right on the edge of doing permanent damage to that grand tradition of bi- partisanship. Chairman NUNES seems to be more of a partisan for the President than an impartial actor. He has not been cooperating like someone who is interested in getting to the unvar- nished truth. His actions look like those of someone who is interested in protecting the President and his party, and that doesn’t work when the goal of the committee is to investigate Russia and its connection to the President and his campaign.

Without further ado, Speaker RYAN should replace Chairman NUNES