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House Intel Chairman Says He Has No Plans to Recuse Himself


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, speaks with reporters outside the White House in Washington, March 22, 2017, following a meeting with President Donald Trump.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Monday he had no intention of recusing himself from the committee's investigation into Russian surveillance.

"Everything is political — people say a lot of things around here and it's fine, it's politics," Nunes told reporters just moments after Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, released a statement calling for Nunes to step down.

"This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the Chairman and I have worked together well for several years," Schiff wrote. He added it would be difficult for the public to maintain faith in the investigation if it could not "be objectively investigated or overseen by the Chairman."

Nunes met a source on White House grounds before making his disclosure last week that President Donald Trump was caught up in "incidental" surveillance, according to his spokesman Jack Langer. Langer told reporters Monday that Nunes wanted "to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source."

WATCH: Nunes on incidental collection of Trump transition team data

Previously, Nunes would not say where he met his source, and has still not revealed the identity of the source.

"He did the exact right thing from beginning to end and there really is a concerted effort out to undermine him," Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, told VOA of Nunes' actions. "He's really on to something, that's why."

King said members of the committee stand by Nunes despite calls from Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for Nunes to step down.

"Obviously, the president had nothing to do with it — the information is totally controlled, and it did not leak out at all," King said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday he does not know where Nunes got his information, but said Nunes has said he did not meet with anyone from the White House staff. He said Nunes also has made clear that he had multiple sources for his allegations.

When asked if the meeting creates a perception problem between Nunes and the White House, Spicer said Nunes was doing his job to investigate allegations of surveillance and was being upfront with journalists about his activities.

WATCH: Schiff on need for independent commission

Last week, Nunes announced that he received information from an undisclosed source that conversations by Trump and his staff had been swept up in "incidental collection" activities by U.S. spy agencies targeting foreign agents.

Nunes spoke with reporters and the president about the material without informing any of the other 21 members of the House Intelligence Committee, angering Democrats on the committee who questioned Nunes' credibility.

Nunes later apologized to the committee for not first telling them about the information.

Trump, who earlier this month tweeted unsubstantiated allegations that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped his campaign while he ran for office, has said he was "somewhat vindicated" by Nunes' statement about the surveillance.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey has said there is no information to support Trump's allegation that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower in New York. Trump has asked Congress to investigate.

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 20, 2017.
FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 20, 2017.

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    Katherine Gypson

    Katherine Gypson is a reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining VOA in 2013, Katherine produced documentary and public affairs programming in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Turkey. She also produced and co-wrote a 12-episode road-trip series for Pakistani television exploring the United States during the 2012 presidential election. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University. Follow her @kgyp

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