Democrats have recently accused Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes of deliberately stalling the inquiry by canceling the committee's meetings and urged him to recuse himself from the investigation.
On Monday night Rep. Adam B. Schiff called upon Nunes to remove himself from the inquiry.
"This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the Chairman and I have worked together well for several years; and I take this step with the knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have on the Intelligence Committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters, not just to conduct the investigation," Schiff said in an official statement.
After much consideration I believe Chairman should recuse himself from involvement in investigation/oversight of Trump campaign & transition pic.twitter.com/jpfA1x80Si— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) 27 марта 2017 г.
A Democratic chorus echoed Schiff on Tuesday.
"An investigation is only as credible as those who lead it. Chairman Nunes sacrificed his credibility & must recuse himself," Rep. Kathleen Rice tweeted March 28.
An investigation is only as credible as those who lead it. Chairman Nunes sacrificed his credibility & must recuse himself. #TrumpRussia— Kathleen Rice (@RepKathleenRice) 28 марта 2017 г.
The Democratic Party members Rep. Terry Sewell and Rep. Jackie Speier also issued statements calling upon Nunes to step aside or even to resign.
Still, it appears that it wasn't the cancellation of the committee's hearings involving former acting attorney general Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers that prompted deep concerns within the Democratic camp.
Apparently, the root of the matter lies in Nunes' revelations regarding an illegal dissemination of "incidentally" collected intelligence on Donald Trump and his team.
Speaking to journalists last week, Nunes confirmed that the intelligence community "incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition."
To make the situation even worse, none of the surveillance material collected on Trump's team was connected to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities.
"Details about US persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting," Nunes told reporters March 22, "Finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team."
To add to the Democrats' confusion, Nunes announced Tuesday that he will not unveil — at least for a period of time — who exactly provided him with the intelligence reports revealing that Trump and his associates were subjected to incidental intelligence monitoring.
Currently, two separate investigations are going on, conservative media outlet Washington Examiner explains.
The first one pertains to alleged Russian meddling in the US 2016 presidential campaign; the second one is a "potentially illegal handling of intelligence information on US persons by the intelligence community or the Obama administration."
It is understandable that Nunes needs to take his time to look into both issues, the media outlet pointed out.
Moscow has repeatedly refuted groundless claims that the Russian government could have interfered in the US presidential election, calling attention to the fact that the US failed to present any evidence to confirm its allegations.