Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

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Nunes also fielded questions about Tuesday's cancellation of an open House hearing that was supposed to feature testimony from former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates about matters related to the Russian Federation probe. The California Republican admitted that he met with an unidentified source on the White House grounds to review intelligence reports ahead of his claim that Trump transition members' communications were "incidentally" swept up by USA intelligence officials. Democrats on Monday called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after he acknowledged he went to the White House complex to review intelligence reports and meet a secret source.

Nunes, who was a member of the team that ran Trump's transition to the presidency after the November 8 election, told reporters on Tuesday the House panel's investigation was moving forward.

Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he will not take himself off the investigation. Apparently, Yates had obtained permission from White House to testify according to Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

TRT World's Tetiana Anderson has more on the controversy from Washington DC.

"While the White House initially refused to comment, Sean Spicer said in a briefing this afternoon that he "[hopes] she testifies, I look forward to it".

Schiff on Monday called for Nunes to recuse himself from "any investigation" into the president's campaign and transition team.

"You see the unraveling of this committee happening overnight for no good reason", said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a committee member.

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But Democrats and some Republicans were dismayed by Nunes' actions, saying that by going to the White House grounds he delegitimized the nonpartisan investigation he was tasked with leading.

"I think that we certainly had agreement today that the witnesses that we feel are appropriate, they won't stand in our way, and we feel the same way about witnesses they want to call", he said. That, a Nunes aide said, was because "the White House grounds was the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents". House Speaker Paul Ryan, asked at a news conference whether Nunes should step aside from the investigation and if he knew the source of Nunes' claims about surveillance, said: "No and no".

The heat's also on because some Trump associates have volunteered to talk with the Senate and House intelligence panels about their alleged Russian connections. Nunes says that meeting didn't involve anyone from the Trump administration, but it would have been hard for him to have gotten into the White House without help from a staffer.

The House panel is likely to hear from FBI Director James Comey next week, King said.

Wyden says it's important for the committee to separate fact from speculation amid reports that several individuals received funds from Russian Federation.

The White House said the report was "entirely false" without addressing specific claims that Yates was warned her testimony could include privileged information that would be barred from a public hearing.

In a piece also published Tuesday, Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker asserted that the White House has been coordinating with Nunes. The White House confirmed that Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, had volunteered to be interviewed about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials.