The West

After Mueller, Devin Nunes demands Adam Schiff step down

Rep. Devin Nunes and other Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter to Chairman Adam Schiff Thursday morning calling on him to resign his post.

It’s the latest in a series of calls by Republicans for Schiff to step down over his public comments that President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller III concluded in his report that there was no evidence the Trump campaign had done so.

It’s also a sign of further partisanship on a committee historically known for being bipartisan.

“At the end of the day, Chairman Nunes has been correct in his assessments,” Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, a member of the committee, told McClatchy. “People criticize the Nunes memo, but it made clear the abuses being done.”

In opening statements at a public committee hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election Thursday, Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, began criticizing Schiff without naming him.

“We should not be used as a platform to spread false information and bizarre conspiracies,” Nunes said. “We have unique capabilities and authorities to do crucial oversight work and now, frankly speaking, that is not being done.”

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, then stepped in, reading from a letter sent to Schiff that morning that all Republicans on the committee had signed. The letter states they have “no faith” in Schiff’s abilities and called for his resignation. The letter echoed language Trump has used in calling for Schiff to step down since the summary of the Mueller report was released Sunday.

“I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy is another matter,” Schiff responded during the hearing. “Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt proof of that crime, then I would accept that decision, and I do.”

The criticisms of partisanship ramped up against Nunes in 2017, when as chair of the committee he shared documents with the White House on investigations into the Trump campaign. He publicly recused himself from the Russia investigation after that, but resumed after he was cleared by an ethics investigation. Democrats have complained he did not truly recuse himself during that time.

Intelligence Republicans also closed the investigation into the Trump campaign over the protests of Democrats.

It’s unclear who took the lead on the letter. Nunes’ office did not respond to a request for comment and other Republican offices forwarded the letter without answering other questions.

“We all signed it,” Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, told McClatchy, declining to answer who had lead the effort.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called it “shameful” that Trump and House Intelligence Republicans had called for Schiff to resign, and said he had her full support.

“I’m so proud of the work of Chairman Adam Schiff, in stark contrast to the irresponsible, almost criminal behavior of the previous chair of the committee,” Pelosi said, referring to Nunes.

“He’s going to make sure the American people know the truth,” Pelosi said.

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Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.