The congressman leading an investigation into reported Russian interference with last year’s presidential election has temporarily stepped down from the investigation.
Congressman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, said his decision follows the announcement of an investigation Thursday by the House Committee on Ethics. The committee is looking into whether Nunes gave out classified information.
Nunes called the charge “entirely false” and said it came from liberal activists.
Democrats have been asking Nunes to give up the chair of the House investigation into Russian interference. They are angry that he went to the White House on March 22 to give information to President Donald Trump. He told Trump that American intelligence agencies had recorded discussions by Trump aides.
The information from Nunes led Trump to say he felt “somewhat” vindicated about his claim that he had been wiretapped by former President Barack Obama.
Democrats objected that Nunes gave the information to the president and reporters before telling members of the House Intelligence Committee. They said the information came from the president’s own staff. And the information did not support Trump’s claims he had been wiretapped by President Obama.
Replacing Nunes as leader of the House Russia investigation will be Congressman Mike Conaway of Texas. Like Nunes, Conaway is a Republican.
The investigation centers on reports from U.S. intelligence officials that Russia hacked into Democratic Party computers and released information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Several people in President Trump’s administration and his campaign have faced questions about their Russian ties.
Michael Flynn was Trump’s national security adviser. He was fired after 23 days for misleading Vice President Mike Pence.
Officials said Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador but he told the vice president that he had not.
Flynn has offered to talk to congressional committees in return for immunity. Immunity means a person cannot be charged with a crime for anything he says to Congress -- while under immunity.
Paul Manafort is a longtime Republican adviser who served as campaign manager for the Trump campaign. He stepped down three months before the election after questions were raised about his work for pro-Russian interests, particularly in Ukraine.
Jared Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law, and an important White House adviser. He agreed to talk to Senate investigators. He is likely to be questioned about his meeting with a Russian banker connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Jeff Sessions was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign. He was selected by Trump to be attorney general -- the top federal law enforcement job.
Sessions announced he will not oversee the federal government’s Russia investigation. He made the announcement after admitting that he failed to tell senators considering his nomination for attorney general about a meeting with the Russian ambassador.
Roger Stone is described as a long-time friend of President Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he predicted correctly that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would release documents that would hurt Democrats.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
classified - adj. information that is supposed to be secret
vindicate - v. to show someone who has been criticized or doubted is correct
wiretap - v. a device that allows someone to secretly listen to phone conversations
replace - v. to take over a job from another person
hack - v. to secretly get access to the files on a computer or network in order to get information
sanctions - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country
particularly - adv. more than usually