White House denies it sought to prevent Yates' testimony

With a political storm swirling around him, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Tuesday he will continue to lead the panel's investigation into reputed Russian interference previous year in the us presidential election.

House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes went to the White House grounds to review intelligence reports and meet the secret source behind his claim that communications involving associates of President Donald Trump were caught up in "incidental" surveillance, the Republican congressman said Monday.

Nunes himself, however, served on President Trump's transition team and has been accused of leading a biased investigation because of his close ties to the Trump White House.

Congressional Democrats, with the help of the Obama-friendly media echo chamber, have been out for Nunes' scalp since his explosive press conference last Wednesday in which he said he had intelligence that leaves no doubt that the Obama administration used the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on the Trump transition team, and possibly Trump himself.

On Tuesday, Nunes rebuffed calls to step aside from the investigation.

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Republicans on the committee publicly continued to back him.

Jones told Fox News that Nunes is now "tainted" by the events and that he has written House Speaker Paul Ryan to demand a special committee to investigate the Russian Federation probe.

During the 2016 primaries, Nunes withheld his endorsement of any particular candidate because he said as House Intelligence Committee chair, he wanted to remain neutral and brief all the candidates.

The spectre of possible Russian influence on the presidential election in Trump's favour has cast a shadow over the Republican president, who took office on January 20.

The following day, Scott Schools, a senior Justice Department lawyer, replied in a letter to O'Neil, saying the Yates conversations with the White House "are likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege".

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"Because of classification rules, the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence committee space", Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Nunes' credibility and the House Intelligence Committee's ability to conduct its investigation.

"Chairman Nunes is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth. And he still keeps telling us that we're going to see this information but nobody has seen it", said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). The next day, Nunes went to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House to meet with an unnamed source who showed him documents related to US intelligence surveillance.

The arranging of the meeting with the Russian banker came at the same time that American intelligence determined that Russian spies ordered by President Vladimir Putin had attempted to sway the USA election in favour of Trump, the newspaper reported. "His actions look like those of someone who is interested in protecting the president and his party", Schumer said.

He said that "as with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed".

House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated his support for Nunes, and Nunes himself said all of the controversy was standard for Washington.

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