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The Latest: Senate intelligence chair praises Nunes recusal

Richard Burr Richard Burr | Photo: AP.

April 06, 2017 06:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the congressional inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election (all times local):

4 p.m.

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The chairman of the Senate intelligence committee says he thinks his counterpart in the House made a good decision in recusing himself from the investigation into Russian activities during the election.

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina spoke Thursday after a closed-door committee meeting that was attended by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Pompeo did not speak to reporters as he left the meeting.

Burr says he thinks Rep. Devin Nunes' move to temporarily step aside will help minimize the politicization of the probes.

He says Rep. Mike Conaway is more than capable of leading the House investigation.

Burr says he has not yet seen the materials Nunes and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee saw at the White House, but he will.

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3:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) is a "good person" and "a very honorable guy."

Trump says he only recently heard that Nunes stepped aside from the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

The president spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to his Florida resort.

Nunes recused himself earlier Thursday. The House ethics committee is investigating whether he improperly disclosed classified information.

Democrats have criticized Nunes for being too close to Trump. He was a member of the president's transition team and had a secret meeting on the White House grounds last month to review classified information.

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12:10 p.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump's suggestion that the Obama administration's national security adviser broke the law is "weird" and "beneath the dignity" of the presidency.

Pelosi called on Trump to "declassify the basis" of his comment and said, "It's time for him to be president, to be the manager."

Pelosi said Thursday that Trump's comments about former national security adviser Susan Rice were unfounded and said Trump "keeps doing a limbo dance. How low can you go?"

Trump told The New York Times on Wednesday that Rice committed a crime when she asked government analysts to disclose the names of Trump associates documented in intelligence reports. Trump would not say whether he reviewed new intelligence to support his claim.

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11:25 a.m.

A watchdog group says it believes Republican Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) has gravely violated House ethics rules governing classified information and should be investigated immediately.

Jordan Libowitz is spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Libowitz says the group is encouraged by the House Ethics Committee launching an investigation.

Libowitz also says Nunes did the right thing by stepping aside from the House intelligence committee's investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia.

The group and another called Democracy 21 asked for the ethics investigation after Nunes disclosed last month that U.S. intelligence intercepts had swept up foreign communications of Trump transition team members.

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10:55 a.m.

The White House is keeping silent on the House intelligence chairman's decision to step aside from the investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Spokesman Sean Spicer declined to comment Thursday, saying House decisions about committee chairman or their activities are "up to them."

California Republican Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) said Thursday that several left-wing groups have filed accusations against him with the office of congressional ethics.

Nunes says the charges are false, but also that it's best for the committee that he step aside temporarily from the Russia investigation.

The California Republican's decision comes amid partisan turmoil on the committee.

Democrats have alleged that Nunes is too close to the Trump White House and can't lead an impartial inquiry.

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10:20 a.m.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

The full 10-member committee is investigating the allegations, a departure from the usual procedure of having a smaller subcommittee handle a probe, and an indication of the seriousness of the claims.

The California Republican congressman says several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against him with the office of congressional ethics.

Nunes says the charges are false and politically motivated. But he says it's in the best interest of the committee to have Republican Mike Conaway of Texas temporarily take charge of the committee's investigation.

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10:15 a.m.

Two ethics watchdog groups filed complaints about the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes of California.

Nunes says he's temporarily stepping aside from the panel's investigation of Russian meddling in the election because of the complaints.

Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington say Nunes disclosed classified information, which violates House ethics rules.

The groups say Nunes publicly disclosed information he learned by viewing classified material.

Two of the four people who signed the March 28 letter alleging ethics violations served as White House counsels in Republican and Democratic administrations.

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10:05 a.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan says Texas Republican Mike Conaway will take over the House investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election.

Ryan says an ethics complaint filed against Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California by government watchdog groups would be a "distraction" and that Nunes should no longer lead the probe.

Nunes has come under intense criticism for meeting secretly with White House officials to view intelligence regarding Trump associates.

Ryan says he is confident that Conaway "will oversee a professional investigation into Russia's actions and follow the facts wherever they lead."

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9:49 a.m.

The chairman of the House intelligence committee says he will temporarily step aside from the panel's probe into Russian meddling in the election.

In a statement on Thursday, Republican congressman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) of California says that several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against him with the office of congressional ethics.

Nunes says the charges are false and politically motivated. But he says it's in the best interest of the committee to have GOP congressman Mike Conaway of Texas temporarily take charge of the committee's investigation.

He says he will continue fulfilling other duties with the committee and wants to talk to the ethics committee as soon as possible to defend himself.

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(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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